With State Budget Signed, D-RiSC Coalition Shifts to Implementation of Pre-Positioning
On June 27, Governor Brown signed the final version of the 2018-19 State Budget (Senate Bill 840).
Included in the Budget was a one-time $25 million General Fund augmentation for Cal OES to enhance the Mutual Aid System. This augmentation was a direct result of the successful advocacy efforts of the local government-based statewide coalition, Disaster Readiness for Safer Communities (D-RiSC).
Although the State Senate’s funding proposal specified that this augmentation would be used “for reimbursement to local governments for costs to preposition resources in high-risk areas,” the final budget control language was changed to direct these funds to be used for equipment and technology. The coalition is currently working with legislative leaders and the Governor’s office on clean-up legislation, to be taken up in August, to ensure that these funds may be used for pre-positioning as well.
Moreover, D-RiSC will continue to advocate for more funds to invest in communications and technology upgrades.
The State Budget package also included $25 million from climate change funding to purchase additional OES engines to be staffed by local agencies. It’s also worth noting that the $25 million appropriated last year for pre-positioning remains available for Cal OES to reimburse to local agencies.
How these “pre-positioning” resources are spent will be determined by eligibility criteria approved by the director of Cal OES. Initial guidelines were published in May. With the explosive start to California’s wildfire season, local agencies expressed concerns to Cal OES and Governor Brown that the guidelines, as published, are overly restrictive to pre-position for high-risk events. Although Cal OES approved funding to pre-position resources in early July during the record-temperature conditions in Southern California, other Red Flag Warning events, such as those conditions that preceded the Pawnee and County fires in Northern California, have failed to qualify under the current guidelines.
For these reasons, local agencies are working with Cal OES through FIRESCOPE to modify the guidelines to apply to a broader range of Red Flag and other high-risk conditions to speed up attack of wildfires by mutual aid resources. Although some revisions have been offered by Cal OES, more are necessary to make the pre-positioning effort as effective and efficient as possible.
Updates regarding the clean-up legislation to clarify the budget control language and the Cal OES guidelines will be sent in mid-August, once the legislature goes back into session.