What will happen with cap-and-trade funds in California's new budget?

Ryan Wiggins Headshot

Any minute now, we could get news about the budget – and the future of the state’s climate program.

Two weeks ago, when Governor Brown proposed indefinitely loaning the first $500 million in cap-and-trade auction revenues to the General Fund, we immediately opposed it because we can put these funds to work reducing greenhouse gases and reviving our sluggish economy this year. Since then a chorus of opposition has sprung up throughout the state in numerous news articles, city resolutions, and in public hearings with legislators in Sacramento.

In committee hearings in the days following the Governor’s budget announcement, legislators almost universally publicly voiced their opposition to the loan. Now, they have a chance to put that opposition into action.

At this very moment, leaders from both the Senate and Assembly are working together in the Budget Conference Committee to craft a budget. We hope their proposal pushes back against the Governor’s loan, and begins investing these revenues in real transportation choices this year. They are expected to release their proposal within the next twenty-four hours.

A strong proposal will invest a significant portion of the $500 million in creating world-class public transit, increased biking and walking, more affordable homes near transit, and expanded urban green space – this year. In addition to reducing climate pollution, these investments will put Californians to work, reduce transportation costs, and foster healthier communities.

With the Legislature’s decision last week to hold all cap-and-trade related bills, including AB 1051 (which would put our Sustainable Communities for All Platform into practice), it’s up to the Legislature to stand up for these priorities now and over the next two weeks. 

We’ll know the final answer by June 15th, when state law requires California to pass its budget. Regardless of what we hear from the Budget Conference Committee today, we need our legislators to know that now is the time to begin investing cap-and-trade auction revenues in healthy, sustainable communities and a clean, 21st-century transportation system.  

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TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.

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