West Coast
El Niño-generated storm waves crash onto seaside houses at Mondos Beach, on Jan. 12, 2016. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

CA - Newsom's Climate Budget Would Slash Funds That Protect Coast

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget would cut funding for coastal resilience projects almost in half, eliminating more than half a billion dollars of state funds this year that would help protect the coast against rising seas and climate change.

The cuts are part of Newsom’s proposed $6 billion in reductions to California’s climate change programs in response to a projected $22.5 billion statewide deficit.

California’s coastal resilience programs provide funding for local governments to prepare coastal plans and pay for projects that protect beaches, homes and infrastructure at risk from rising seas. Greenhouse gases are responsible for warming the planet, which melts ice and causes sea levels to rise.

Newsom’s proposal would budget $734 million for coastal resilience, a cut of 43% or $561 million compared to 2021 and 2022, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Some lawmakers told CalMatters that they are concerned about Newsom’s proposal to gut the programs that are helping coastal towns prepare for flooding that has already damaged many communities.

Sen. Josh Becker, who chairs the Senate’s budget subcommittee, called the cuts “highly concerning,” especially because they are excessive compared to the cuts applied to other state programs.


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“Most programs received 10% cuts,” Becker, a Democrat from San Mateo, said in an interview. “I’m very concerned about it, given the timing that we are experiencing these floods. My county is among the most endangered in the state for sea level rise.”

Becker said he hopes to restore some of the money, possibly by finding federal funds to backfill some programs.

“These are dramatic cuts to something we agreed upon, and I’m going to try to get it back,” he said.

Newsom’s budget, released on Jan. 10, is not final, with revisions due in May.

Experts say there’s a lot at stake if sea level rise and coastal projects are not addressed now. Last month the state Department of Transportation, Caltrans, released a draft management plan (PDF) estimating that it needs nearly $15 billion over the next 10 years to protect bridges and roads from sea level rise.

A 2020 report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office projects that more than $20 billion worth of California property will be at risk or underwater by 2050 without planning and funding. “Waiting too long to initiate adaptation efforts likely will make responding effectively more difficult and costly … . The next decade represents a crucial time period for taking action to prepare for” sea level rise, the report says.

Much of the funding on the chopping block is in the form of grants to local governments to fund projects and planning. Included is $64 million for cities to prepare extensive management plans to prepare for sea level rise.

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