California’s budget is not about resistance. It’s about resilience.

The California legislature has passed a budget bill that gives me great hope for the state and for the nation. That’s because the budget was not only passed with bipartisan support – it also proves that conservation has broad political appeal.

California has rebuked the Trump administration on a number of issues including healthcare, immigration and the environment, leading many Americans to see California as the ultimate resistance state. But when I take a closer look at this budget, I think it has less to do with resistance, and everything to do with resilience.

Resilient people, communities, institutions and, yes, environment.

Vast majority support environmental priorities

Less than two weeks ago, nearly 57 percent of California voters approved a record $4.1 billion bond package – Proposition 68 – to fund a number of environmental priorities, including more than $1 billion to improve parks, green spaces and access to the outdoors, and $1 billion for climate resilience.

EDF's Pablo Garza speaks at a Proposition 68 event. Photo courtesy of Fiona Hutton & Associates | www.fionahuttonassoc.com

With such a clear mandate to protect the environment and prepare California for climate change, it is no surprise that the state budget makes more than $1.2 billion of the funds in Proposition 68 immediately available for projects. These investments include $30 million for Salton Sea restoration, $146 million for sustainable groundwater management, more than $450 million for neighborhood parks in underserved communities, and roughly $150 million for climate resiliency projects.

The investment to manage and restore the Salton Sea, in particular, is sorely needed. The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake that has been in a slow and steady decline for decades, creating an environmental, economic and public health disaster.

In addition to funding for Proposition 68 projects, the state budget also includes $3 million for projects to recover the monarch butterfly and other pollinators that have declined precipitously over the past few decades. EDF is a sponsor of the monarch bill – AB 2421 – introduced by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) to establish habitat restoration projects for the iconic and important species. The bill has received bipartisan support.

Learn more about EDF's work with farmers and ranchers in California to restore habitat for the monarch butterfly.

These funding priorities showcase the commitment that California’s legislature and voters have made to a healthier, safer and more resilient future.

Voters across the U.S. are feeling the realities of climate change

California has been ravaged by wildfires, droughts and floods, so it’s no surprise that voters are feeling the emotional and economic toll of these impacts and demanding action.

Studies increasingly show the economic benefit of investing in climate resiliency. For example, a report from the National Institute of Building Sciences found that for every dollar spent on federal grants aimed at improving disaster resilience, society saves six dollars. So California voters and leaders like Governor Brown should feel confident in the state’s investments.

But it’s not just Californians who are increasingly supporting conservation funding. Polling conducted by the Trust for Public Lands on the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act shows that conservation is something that Georgia voters are supportive of, too.

Again, this doesn’t surprise me.

My colleagues have built decades-long partnerships with farmers, ranchers, sportsmen and other traditionally conservative voters who for many years have recognized the value of resilient ecosystems – ecosystems that support our nation’s robust agriculture and outdoor economies.

But now, more than ever before, I am hopeful that this conservation ethic is catching on, with enough political willpower to succeed nationwide.

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