The Journal Gazette
Monday, January 17, 2022 1:00 am

Governors eye budgets to fight climate issues

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Their state budgets flush with cash, Democratic and Republican governors alike want to spend some of the windfall on projects aimed at slowing climate change and guarding against its consequences.

Democratic governors such as California's Gavin Newsom and Washington's Jay Inslee have been clear about their plans to boost spending on climate-related projects, including expanding access to electric vehicles and creating more storage for clean energies such as solar.

In Republican-led states, governors want to protect communities from natural disasters and drought, even as many of them won't link such spending to global warming.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey last week pitched $1 billion for water infrastructure as drought grips the Western U.S., shriveling water supplies for cities and farms. Idaho Gov. Brad Little, who has acknowledged climate change's role in worsening wildfires, proposed $150 million for five years' worth of fire-fighting costs, plus more for new fire personnel. In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster called on lawmakers to spend $300 million in federal money for, among other things, protecting the state's coastline against flooding and erosion.

Governors' proposals are just the first step in budget negotiations, and they'll have to work with state lawmakers on the final details. Many governors will issue their plans in the coming weeks.

Most states are awash in money as tax collections have exceeded expectations because of strong consumer spending and rising prices, which together have bolstered sales tax revenue. On top ofthat, states are taking in billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief and are preparing for a big boost in federal infrastructure money after Congress passed a $1 trillion public works bill in November.

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