States across the country have budget surpluses, including federal coronavirus stimulus payments, and many governors are using the money for projects to fight so-called climate change. The excess cash is also from tax collection and post-lockdown consumer spending, and governors of both red and blue states are directing funds to improve protection from extreme weather, which Democrats and the press blame on human activity and fossil fuels.
The Associated Press reported on the development:
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. Newsom deemed climate change one of five “existential threats” facing the nation’s most populous state when he rolled out his proposed state budget this past week.
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 this past 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, erosion and storm damage.
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, with some already telegraphing their priorities. New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, used her state of the state address to call for $500 million in spending on offshore wind projects.