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February 20, 2008 - We recommend applying the "polluter pays" funding principle more fully to the State Water Resources Control Board’s core water quality and water rights programs by (1) increasing existing fees to fully cover regulatory program costs, and (2) enacting a new broad-based fee to fully fund water quality management programs. Adopting our recommendations would create General Fund savings of $30.6 million.
February 20, 2008 - The Governor’s proposed surcharge on commercial and residential insurance policies statewide to partially pay for wildland firefighting should be rejected in favor of a fee on property owners in "state responsibility areas" because these individuals directly benefit from the state’s firefighting services.
February 20, 2008 - We recommend the enactment of legislation to establish a fee to cover the department’s flood management expenditures that provide a direct benefit to property owners in flood zones statewide and those protected by the state Central Valley flood control system, thereby creating General Fund savings of about $40 million.
February 20, 2008 - Contrary to legislative direction, the Governor has failed to identify a stable, long-term source of funding in the budget for implementation of "AB 32"--climate change legislation enacted in 2006. Instead, the Governor has relied on more borrowing from unrelated special funds to pay for a majority of the program. While not taking issue with the merits of the activities proposed for funding, we recommend that the Legislature defer action on a majority of the budget proposal until the administration submits a funding plan that is responsive to legislative direction.
February 20, 2008 - Various Delta-related planning efforts, including Delta Vision, have made recommendations that, if adopted, will fundamentally change the future approach of the CALFED Bay-Delta Program. We recommend denial of some CALFED budget proposals on the basis that, contrary to recommendations of the planning efforts, they either lack clear objectives and funding priorities, do not apply the beneficiary pays funding principle, or do not meet the information needs of policy makers.
January 24, 2008 - First, we recommend the Legislature set explicit policy priorities in statute for addressing environmental problems at the Sea. We consider protection of air quality and preservation of wildlife habitat to be the highest priorities. Second, we recommend the Legislature adopt a comprehensive plan at the outset of the restoration process. Finally, we recommend the Legislature consider funding interim measures to address priority issues such as air quality or wildlife habitat in the near term.
January 3, 2008 - With the recent Southern California wildfires, there has been significant interest in the programs that are available to help disaster victims. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information on the programs and funds available to deal with state disasters. We provide links to more specific information, such as program eligibility and rules.
November 29, 2007 - Presented to Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water Hon. Darrell Steinberg, Chair Senate Committee on Governmental Organization Hon. Dean Florez, Chair
November 20, 2007 - Assembly Committee on Natural Resources Hon. Loni Hancock, Chair
October 18, 2007 - With the billions of dollars of state funds spent in recent years or available for expenditure (from existing bond funds) for land acquisitions for resource conservation purposes, it is important that the purchase price of these acquisitions be supported by a sound appraisal process. However, our review found that the quality and objectivity of state resource-related appraisals are impeded by both a lack of comprehensive standards and insufficient independence of the appraisal function from the land-acquiring agencies. We also found that limits on the public disclosure of appraisal-related information make public and legislative oversight of resource acquisitions difficult. In this report, we make several recommendations to improve the appraisal function for resource acquisitions, ultimately to protect taxpayers from being overcharged in these transactions.
October 4, 2007 - Presented to Assembly Special Committte on Water Hon. Lois Wolk, Chair
March 28, 2007 - Presented to Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources
March 27, 2007 - To promote conservation of its natural resources, the state has created a number of conservancies to acquire and protect undeveloped land within specific geographic regions. In 2000, the Legislature created one such conservancy for the Baldwin Hills area of the Los Angeles Basin, which is scheduled to sunset on January 1, 2008. As statute requires, this report reviews the conservancy’s progress and considers the merits of extending the conservancy’s sunset date. We find that, generally, the conservancy has operated in a manner consistent with its statutory role, and while the conservancy has made progress, more remains to be done to meet statutory objectives. We recommend extending the conservancy’s sunset date by five years, preceded by a sunset review of its performance and its relevance at this later time to the state’s overall conservation goals.
March 26, 2007 - Presented to Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy
March 26, 2007 - Presented to Assembly Natural Resources Committee and Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources