California Senate proposes to spend $3.4 billion on drought

ABC 30

Mired in yet another drought that threatens drinking water, endangered species of fish and the state’s massive agriculture industry, Democrats in the California Senate on Thursday detailed a $3.4 billion proposal designed to gird the state for a new crisis on the heels of a deadly and disruptive pandemic.

The proposal would equal all of the state’s combined spending during the previous drought, which lasted from 2012 to 2016, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. That drought occurred after the Great Recession, when California routinely battled multibillion-dollar budget deficits and struggled to pay for state services.

But this year, California is flush with cash after the forecasts of damaging deficits because of the pandemic never came true. Nine months into California’s fiscal year, the state has so far collected $16.7 billion more in taxes than it had predicted. In addition, the federal government has sent the state $26 billion as part of a coronavirus relief package with broad authority on how to spend it.

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