SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — California state lawmakers are moving forward with a multi-billion dollar package to address the state’s drought issues.
This comes as most of the state is considered to be in a severe drought.
A $3.4 billion drought relief package cleared its first hurdle in the California legislature Thursday as lawmakers try to swiftly send it to the governor for approval.
The effort unanimously cleared a senate budget committee on natural resources.
“Every day or week that we wait in getting money on the ground its days and weeks that there’s evaporation happening on our soils,” Brian Dahle said. “Some of these water districts need resources to get things done. “
Half a billion dollars would be available immediately for emergency drought related response for communities that need it across California.
Thursday’s latest drought monitor release showed 88% of the state is in a severe drought, with the entire state considered abnormally dry.
“Not trying to kick down the road or waiting for everything to shake out in Washington,” Sen. Howard Stern, Calabasas, said.
The proposed package would also put funds toward improving water supply in smaller communities, help ratepayers with COVID related water debt and provide help to struggling agriculture and local water agencies.
The package would be paid with state and federal funds.
State natural resources and water officials noted California’s conditions are approaching the levels the state experienced in its last drought a few years ago.
Governor Gavin Newsom has said regardless of the current conditions, he does not yet feel the need to declare a drought state of emergency.
Newsom’s administration Thursday told lawmakers many lessons were learned in the last drought that lead to projects and policies which they say improved California’s protection from drought.
Lawmakers say more still needs to be done.
“Every day that we wait that’s missed opportunity to get seeds in the ground to stabilize that soil as well as take care of the environment,” Dahle said.
The package now heads to the senate’s full budget committee for approval.