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Other Budget Issues

Last Updated: 4/16/2010
Budget Issue: Proposed establishment of a new state fund to accept disaster relief and other donations.
Program: California Agency on Service and Volunteering
Finding or Recommendation: Recommend rejection of this proposal, which would create a duplicate private donation fund for disaster relief and give the executive branch far too much power.
Further Detail

Governor Proposes Fund to Collect Private Donations for Disaster Relief and Other Purposes. In conjunction with his proposal to establish a volunteerism agency, the Governor proposes trailer bill language that would establish the California Volunteers Fund in the state treasury, a continuously appropriated fund that would accept tax-deductible cash donations from individuals or private entities. The proceeds of this fund would be available for the proposed volunteerism agency's use for disaster preparedness, response, and relief activities. The fund also could support efforts to increase public participation in community service activities, research concerning volunteerism, and any type of assistance the volunteerism secretary sees fit to give to local nonprofit and governmental entities that utilize volunteers. We understand that occasionally CV receives contributions to support relief efforts related to natural disasters in California and that this is one motivation for the proposal.

Recommend Rejection of Proposal. In the event that CV receives such donation offers, it should always direct donors to worthy local and nonprofit efforts directly involved in disaster relief. If a donor insists on making a contribution to the state, the administration instead should direct that donor to the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA), which manages the existing Disaster Resistant Communities Fund. That fund may receive cash and other contributions pursuant to Sections 8588.1 and 8588.2 of the Government Code. Subdivision (b)(2) of Section 8588.2 allows CalEMA to develop procedures to use privately donated materials to aid natural disaster victims and otherwise further the purposes of the fund. If the administration believes that these code sections should be amended to give CalEMA more flexibility to manage cash donations from individuals and others, it should propose changes to these existing code sections. It is unnecessary for the state to have two, potentially competing donation funds involved in disaster relief and preparedness. Moreover, the language for the proposed California Volunteers Fund gives far too much authority to the executive branch to manage privately-solicited funds. Accordingly, we recommend that the proposal to create a California Volunteers Fund be rejected.