The Press Democrat
By Marc Levine
This week, I will cast one of the deciding votes on a state budget that bolsters our commitment to education and health care, invests in our crumbling infrastructure, strengthens our rainy-day fund and addresses the changing weather patterns that overflowed our rivers, washed away our roads and fueled the most devastating fires in state history — catastrophes from which we will be recovering for years to come.
The budget I plan to vote for will include nearly $100 million to cull drought-stricken trees from our forests and take other steps to reduce the natural fuel load for wildfires. Another $50 million will go toward restoring and rebuilding public property lost to natural disaster. Tens of millions will flow to school districts and local governments to make up for lost tax revenue.
There will be at least $15 million to modernize California’s public safety radio systems. And we will see a significant increase — $160 million — to Cal Fire’s operating budget.
It won’t include everything we want or need. Budgets don’t work like that. Although you would never know it from watching cable news, compromise is still very much at the heart of our political system, and everyone leaves the table with some, but not all, of what they want.
The budget is an indispensable tool for mitigating disaster and building a resilient future, but it is not the only means by which we can do what’s right for our community in the aftermath of the fires last October.