CA’s Revised Budget Highlights Critical Need for a Climate Bond

Governor Newsom's May Revise proposed budget wrestles with cuts in important climate and conservation programs

California has prided itself on its bold leadership on climate change. In the past twenty years, it has made unprecedented commitments and investments to reduce emissions and build climate resilience. Unfortunately, amid a dire state budget crisis, California leaders are struggling to ensure that the state will continue its leadership in meeting the challenge of climate change.

Immediate and large-scale climate action is essential to protect people and birds. Audubon’s Survival by Degrees report found that 389 species of North American birds are likely to see significant population declines due to climate change if global temperature increased beyond 3 degrees Celsius, which now seems almost unavoidable. As the world’s fifth largest economy and a global leader on climate policy, California’s climate action will have direct impacts on birds and their habitats well beyond the state’s borders.

Last week, Governor Newsom released the May Revision of his proposed budget, first released in January. The governor's budget wrestles with a projected $40 billion deficit that requires cost-cutting across the board, including important natural resource and climate programs. Now the Legislature and the Governor’s Office will negotiate a final budget deal to be completed by mid-June.

As the Legislature and Governor’s Office negotiate a final budget deal in the next few weeks, Audubon and many partners are assessing the deep cuts in important programs, including:

  • $497.4 million in cuts to the Wildlife Conservation Board, the state’s primary grant-making entity for habitat conservation and restoration projects.
  • $392 million in cuts to programs that provide coastal protection, restoration, and climate adaptation.
  • $98.66 million in cuts to State Parks, including the Outdoor Equity Grants program, the Recreational Trails and Greenways Program, and sea level rise adaptation at state parks, among other programs.
  • $64.4 million in cuts to the Ocean Protection Council, which is essential in funding marine research and planning necessary conservation and sea level rise planning along the California coast.
  • $45 million in cuts to the Habitat Conservation Fund; the Governor is also proposing legislative language to terminate this program, which would otherwise receive at least $165 million in funding through 2030.
  • $32.7 million in cuts to the Department of Conservation, including the Climate Smart Lands Program and the Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program, which is essential to a smooth transition as California works to achieve sustainable groundwater usage.

Audubon recognizes that tough choices had to be made and that every sector – including health care, education, and housing – are taking big hits. Addressing the state’s housing crisis is a pressing priority, as is ensuring that our children receive the quality education and care they need now and for the future.  But we also know that delayed action on climate policies and biodiversity conservation will result in greater costs over time.

That’s why Audubon California stands firmly behind a new voter-approved bond to fund necessary climate investments. The people of California know how critical this next decade is to preventing the worst impacts of climate change, building environmental resilience, and ensuring a livable future for both people and birds. A recent poll showed that 60% of voters would vote for a $15 billion climate bond that invests in wildlife conservation, safe drinking water, habitat protection, clean energy and other critical investments.

Along with over 160 organizations across the state and country, we are calling upon the governor and state legislators to let Californians vote on a Climate Resilience bond in November that will:

  • Fund habitat conservation and restoration, urban greening, and increased access to nature throughout the state,
  • Protect water supplies in the places birds and communities need it most,
  • Build climate resilience to increasing threats from wildfires, floods, drought, and extreme heat,
  • Invest in our state’s natural and working lands as climate solutions to sequester carbon and absorb more climate impacts, and
  • Drive responsible renewable energy projects on land and in the ocean.

Join us in advocating for the climate investments California needs by writing your Assemblymember today. Let your elected officials know that you want them to invest in our shared future.

Audubon California will continue our work championing the habitats that birds and people need, from our beautiful coasts to our valuable working lands. Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our advocacy and conservation work and be the first to hear about opportunities to help birds in California.

How you can help, right now