What Happened: On May 14, Governor Gavin Newsom submitted his 2020-21 May Revision budget proposal to the Legislature. The proposed 2021-22 budget in January included a potential increase in the two-year California recreational vessel registration fee from $20 to $70. After significant input from boating advocates and boaters, the proposed fee for the reduced to $40 in the revised 2021-22 budget in May. The fee increase was proposed by California State Parks to address a deficit in the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund, the primary fund source for boating programs managed by the California Division of Boating and Waterways.
The revised budget also requested $10.7 million from State Parks’ General Fund be transferred to the HWRF annually from 2021-22 to 2024-25 to cover costs associated with the aquatic invasive species (AIS) program.
What’s on Tap: The Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, and Energy met on May 25 and held a hearing on the budget item. The staff recommendation was to reject the governor’s proposed increase in the vessel registration fee. The staff recommendation also proposed providing an additional $9.3 million from the General Fund annually from 2021-22 to 2024-25 to support the HWRF and adopting budget bill language that requires State Parks, in consultation with stakeholders and staff of relevant fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature, to develop a proposal that includes a combination of fee increases, expenditure reductions, and other actions designed to keep the fund in structural balance on an ongoing basis. The budget bill language would require the department to present this proposal to the Legislature for consideration no later than January 10, 2023.
The subcommittee recommendations will now go onto the full Assembly and Senate budget committees, which will decide whether to accept or amend the changes, which is likely to happen the week this paper goes to press. The Legislature has until June 15 to pass a budget and the governor has until July 1 to sign a budget. The Log will continue to follow and provide updates.