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June 11, 2010 California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review 

After a couple of very busy weeks to meet various legislative deadlines, the Legislature turned its attention to the Budget Conference Committee. The Committee met twice daily, in lengthy sessions, to review the differences between the Senate and Assembly versions of the proposed State Budget Act. Many controversial items were left “open” with the goal of returning to them later for final resolution. Some the committee’s actions in the resources area of the budget that impact farmers and ranchers by shifting General Fund (GF) cost to Special Funds supported by new fees included:

  • Approved the governor’s request for a $1.4 million shift from GF to fees for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System;
  • Approved the governor’s request for $1.8 million shift from GF to fees for the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program.
  • Approved the governor’s request for $3.2 million shift from GF to fees for the Water Rights Program.
  • Denied the governor’s request for $513,000 to permanently staff the State Board of Food and Agriculture.

The Committee did not resolve issues related to the Department of Pesticide registration budget due to concern by anti-pesticide groups over the registration of methyl iodide to replace the fumigant methyl bromide. The Committee also left open the governor’s proposed Emergency Response Initiative to backfill $200 million in GF support for fire protection with revenue from a 4.8 percent surcharge on property insurance premiums. The Legislative Analyst’s Office continued to push their proposal for a fee per structure charge on buildings in the State Responsibility Area to off-set GF expenditures for wildfire protection. The Committee was thankfully not receptive to this proposal, although it was left open so the potential for further discussion and action remains on the table.

Despite all of the Committee’s work this week, the bill is nowhere close to resolving the $20+ billion State Budget deficit. Democrats have rejected virtually all of the governor's proposed budget cuts including health and social service spending reductions, K-14 education savings, and state personnel cuts. Instead, The Democrat majorities in both the Senate and Assembly continue to propose tax increases and more borrowing. To no one’s surprise, the Legislature  
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