The budget deal zeroes out funding for critical climate equity programs, and fails to include a commitment to Justice40 or accountability and transparency structures that promote equitable investments
Sacramento, CA — On Monday night, the Governor and Legislature announced a budget deal that zeroes out funding for critical climate equity programs in fiscal year 2023-24, including the Community Resilience Centers and Transformative Climate Communities programs. These programs were top priorities for environmental justice advocates, who have called for these urgently needed community investments in the face of increasing climate impacts and disasters.
While the budget deal maintained $51.4 billion in the climate package, it aligned with the Governor’s proposal to redirect an additional $1.1 billion toward an uncertain climate bond, more than a quarter of which came from climate equity programs. This will cause these programs to face significant funding gaps, creating disruption and uncertainty which will disproportionately impact the most climate-vulnerable and pollution-burdened communities in our state.
In addition, the budget deal approved several measures as part of an infrastructure package, including concerning changes to CEQA that undercut regulations that protect communities and the environment. The budget deal does include some important measures to advance economic equity through labor standards that have long been a priority for the California Green New Deal Coalition. However, these labor standards must be broadened and strengthened, and the budget deal fully omits a commitment to Justice40 or accountability structures that would ensure the state centers equity in its climate and infrastructure investments.
Last year, the California Green New Deal Coalition helped to lead a coalition of environmental justice, community, climate, and labor groups in supporting AB 2419, the California Justice40 Act, which would have aligned California with the federal Justice40 Initiative by putting equity and labor standards at the center of our investments. Advocates were hopeful that subsequent state action would include equity standards as a central component of the state’s infrastructure plan, but the final budget agreement reveals that this is not a serious priority for the Administration.
Statement from Zach Lou, Coalition Manager for the California Green New Deal Coalition:
“We are deeply disappointed that the budget deal zeroes out funding for the Community Resilience Centers and Transformative Climate Communities programs. These cuts threaten to undermine programs that are advancing exactly the kinds of community-led solutions that are so badly needed right now. This comes as a bitter blow to our communities, and marks a failure by the state to prioritize funding that would protect and invest in the most vulnerable communities in the state.
While we are encouraged to see the inclusion of labor and workforce development policies to promote local hire and job quality, we are dismayed that the state has once again omitted a plan to achieve the promise of Justice40, or any commitment to equity standards that ensure our investments repair the longstanding legacy of racist infrastructure policies and systemic community disinvestment.”
Statement from Amee Raval, Policy & Research Director, Asian Pacific Environmental Network:
“We are extremely disappointed by the reversal of committed funding for the SGC Community Resilience Centers Program in the upcoming budget year. With the storms and flooding experienced earlier this winter and anticipated extreme heat impacts, communities are already experiencing the effects of the climate crisis and need resources to build resilience now. Without continued funding, important community institutions will lose momentum on making critically needed infrastructure upgrades.
Community Resilience Centers are part of developing collective responses to disasters – responses that benefit entire neighborhoods and communities, not just individual households. The program has significant grassroots support and is rooted in a community-led vision to transform trusted neighborhood spaces like youth centers, recreation centers, health clinics and libraries into climate resilience hubs that are resourced and ready to support entire communities everyday as well as when disaster hits. ”
Statement from Alexis Sutterman, Energy Equity Program Manager, California Environmental Justice Alliance:
“We appreciate the allocation for community renewable energy and storage in the final budget, but $33 million is far too low relative to the $400 million we planned to help projects scale up in environmental justice communities across the State. Low-income Californians will continue to see funding gaps in programs designed to help them through energy and climate crises. Let’s be clear, these are mostly communities of color that get left out of the budget. Cutting off their funding is environmental racism.
California is far behind other states in community solar and storage access when we should be leading. As the State fails to meaningfully invest in this critical reliability resource, it is also preparing to backpedal on commitments to retire dirty gas power plants polluting our neighborhoods. These decisions threaten to lock us into costly and harmful fossil fuel dependence when the State should be supporting community-scale clean energy that can ensure a healthy and reliable grid.”
Statement from Tracey Brieger, Deputy Director, Jobs with Justice San Francisco:
“With billions of dollars in federal infrastructure money rushing into the state, we have a once in a generation opportunity to shift our economy to create good jobs and stabilize our economy in the face of climate change. We support the contracting standards included in the budget, and the Governor and the Legislature need to go much further: they need to ensure strong labor standards and good, family-sustaining jobs in every single sector that the federal money touches—including communications and water infrastructure—while ensuring that communities historically excluded can thrive in these jobs. A strong public sector is also critical for California in the face of climate chaos, and our state leaders need to invest this funding in our public sector and prevent outsourcing.
State leaders have an opportunity and an obligation to invest this money to lift up all Californians while prioritizing California’s core climate goal of nearly halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. We call the Governor and Legislature to establish comprehensive and strong labor, climate and equity guardrails on all federal investments as soon as possible.”
Statement from Sona Mohnot, Climate Resilience Director, The Greenlining Institute:
“We are very disappointed to see the budget agreement zero out funding for Transformative Climate Communities and Community Resilience Centers in FY 23-24, in addition to cutting $65M that was already committed to TCC in FY 22-23. Communities of color and low-income communities already face disproportionate pollution, poverty, and climate change threats. Now, they are forced to contend with a severe wave of cuts that eliminate the most essential equity programs that build community resilience in frontline communities. The budget looks to backfill funding from a highly uncertain bond measure, which must surpass voter approval first. Even if the bond were to pass, it would leave our most vulnerable communities who have been planning climate projects to wait another two years for implementation funding when they are already experiencing the brunt of soaring inflation and increasing climate impacts. Now more than ever, the state should be doubling down on investments in equity, not eliminating them.
While we appreciate the investments in capacity building through the Regional Climate Collaboratives program, we need to ensure there is also full scale funding going to the very programs that capacity building can support, such as TCC and CRC. As a leader on climate and equity, we are disheartened and concerned to see California leaders fail to prioritize key equity investments.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2023