Emergency Services and Disaster Resilience Prioritized in Governor Newsom’s Budget

Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 May Budget Revision continues the state’s efforts to prioritize investments to strengthen California’s emergency capacity and capabilities to respond to increasingly complex disasters, security threats, and emergencies.

At a time when disasters facing California have become more frequent, complicated, and often involve numerous counties and regions across the state, the May Revision includes a package of initiatives to strengthen the state’s ability to respond to increasingly complex disasters, security threats, and emergencies; lead multi-faceted, long-term recovery efforts across California; and strengthen equity and connections with vulnerable communities.

In addition to modernizing technology and data analytics; and strengthening equity and connections with vulnerable communities, these resources would lessen the reliance on redirected staff to respond and ready California during and post emergencies.

The full 2021-22 May Budget Revision can be found here.

The proposal includes in the following areas:

Emergency Response Facilities: To help save lives and properties, the Governor proposes $26.49 million to establish a new, more advanced Emergency Operations Center for Southern California.

Wildfire Forecast and Threat Intelligence Center: The Governor proposes $9.6 million to build California’s own wildfire equivalent of the National Hurricane Center, to act as a central hub for wildfire forecasting, weather information, and wildfire threat intelligence gathering and analysis.

Connecting with Disaster-Vulnerable Communities: We know that our most under-resourced communities are disproportionately impacted when a disaster strikes. Therefore, the Governor proposes creating a new Office of Equity at Cal OES and permanently funding the Listos grant program, building resiliency by strengthening connections between vulnerable Californians and the emergency response network. The Governor’s $29.9 million investment is key to improving disaster-planning for all-hazards, and meeting community needs before, during and after a disaster.

Prepare California: Acting on the advice from experts that attended the Governor’s 2019 Emergency Management Summit, Governor Newsom proposes a $250 million all-hazards initiative called Prepare California, designed to plan and build disaster-resilient communities from the bottom-up through the collaboration of state, local, federal, private sector, and non-governmental organizations. The program will also eliminate barriers for local and Tribal Governments by providing expert assistance and meeting some costs of the federal government’s disaster preparedness programs.

Community Resilience Centers: When communities are asked to evacuate, some Californians have no option but to shelter at evacuation centers. Governor Newsom proposes $150 million to develop and enhance community resilience centers, and improve both local fairground and other community facilities. This funding will provide shelter, support base camps during emergency events, or act on critical deferred maintenance. Enhancements may include cooling and heating centers, clean air centers, and extended emergency evacuation response centers with community kitchens, shower facilities, broadband, back-up power, and other community needs during wildfires, floods, and other emergencies (including climate-driven events).

Resilient Foundations: California’s emergencies and disasters have become more frequent, complicated, and often involve numerous counties and regions across the state. All of which have combined to place enormous strain on the individuals dedicated to sustaining emergency preparedness, response, and recovery activities. This impacts the organization’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities to Californians. The Governor is committed to shoring up California’s emergency management foundations by investing $76.1 million in new funding for additional administrative, operational, IT, and mission support staff at Cal OES.

Local Government Assistance: Governor Newsom proposes directing $100 million in California Disaster Assistance Act funding to assist counties and cities during and after disasters. This funding will help repair, restore, or replace damaged public property or reimburse local agencies for emergency response costs.

Earthquake Early Warning System: $17 million to support, improve, and integrate with critical infrastructure facilities.