Newsom Budget Emphasizes Fire Response, Secure Pension System

During the election campaign, Gov. Gavin Newsom committed to stand up for retirement protections as well as put the state’s critical fire and disaster response needs at the top of the agenda.

In his first budget, Newsom proposed meaningful progress in both areas.

On the first full day of his term, Newsom announced a substantial boost – nearly $400 million – in state funding for disaster response, wildfire prevention and forest restoration. The proposal included money to boost CAL FIRE staffing, add new OES engines and fund pre-position resources. Critically, the fire response money was included in the general fund budget, indicating an ongoing commitment.

“The fact that the governor chose to emphasize our fire and disaster risk on Day One is significant,” said CPF President Brian K. Rice. “It shows this is a top priority and that the firefighter voice is being heard.”

A few days later, Newsom’s full 2019-2020 state budget took a major step toward preserving the health of the state’s retirement systems. Taking advantage of a substantial budget surplus, Newsom proposed an additional $3 billion pre-payment to CalPERS. Over the long term, the proposal will provide close to $7 billion in savings. Newsom also proposed a substantial additional payment to CalSTRS, which protects the state’s teachers.

“The governor’s proposal shores up the fund’s ability to protect pension promises to firefighters and other public workers,” said Rice. “It also follows through on a campaign commitment to stand up for these promises. “

The new budget also fully funds apprenticeship programs, including the CPF co-sponsored California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee.