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With State Facing Budget Deficit, BuildStrong California Welcomes New Wildfire Transparency Bill

For immediate release:
CPN AAR Hearing

Sacramento, CA  BuildStrong California commends Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine) for introducing legislation that would require more accountability and transparency on tax dollars invested into wildfire and forest resilience programs. The bill, AB 2344, directs the state Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force to make publicly available online data and information on wildfire projects and expenditures to ensure state and federal resources are being maximized and used appropriately to meaningfully increase statewide resilience.

“While the ongoing investment in wildfire prevention is well-intentioned, it is critical for those in the 73rd Assembly District and throughout the entire state to have a clear understanding of exactly how their tax dollars are being put to use,” said Petrie-Norris. “The current budget deficit makes it more important than ever to continue to push for greater transparency around these programs and expenditures. The more we understand and utilize these resources, the better we can protect our neighbors and communities who are the most vulnerable.”

California currently faces a multibillion-dollar budget deficit. Petrie-Norris, the Chair of the Utilities and Energy Committee, previously authored legislation calling for greater visibility into how the state collects, accounts for, and makes available information on wildfire spending. In recent years, billions in state and federal dollars have been spent on developing and implementing wildfire and forest mitigation programs and strategies in an attempt to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. But there is still confusion and a lack of clarity regarding the current status of these programs and related expenditures. This new bill addresses that gap in understanding by making available to the public data and information already collected by state agencies on wildfire and forest resilience programs, projects, and expenditures.

“California should be applauded for its historic investment into wildfire mitigation and resilience, which is critical to saving lives and livelihoods. But that historic investment, especially during a budget shortfall, demands the highest levels of accountability to match,” said BuildStrong California Executive Director Natalie Enclade, Ph.D. “We’re encouraged by Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris’s continued commitment to protecting Californians and ensuring the root causes of catastrophic wildfires are being adequately addressed.”

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