Align California's Budget Surplus with Key Environmental Plans

“This is an historic, transformational budget. This is not a budget that plays small ball.” - Governor Gavin Newsom on the May Revise, May 14, 2021

Several weeks ago, Governor Newsom released his “May Revise” budget outlining his $100 billion “California Comeback Plan”, which he’s calling “the biggest economic recovery package in California history.” California currently has a $75 billion dollar surplus in our state budget and also has $27 billion dollars in federal aid, hence the necessary “May Revise” to the budget. 

For Californians that care about transportation, infrastructure, land use, water, and environmental justice, the May Revise brings promising news. The full May Revise budget can be found here and below are particular areas of interest for the ClimatePlan network. 

As the Governor goes into negotiations with the Senate and Assembly regarding the funding plan, there is a major opportunity to ensure that this spending proposal is aligned with several of the key state plans currently created or being created - the California Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI), the 30 x 30 Executive Order (conserving 30% of CA’s land and coast by 2030), California Air Resources Board’s new Climate Change Scoping Plan, and Executive Order N-70-29, which calls for all new cars sold in California to be zero emission by 2035.

CAPTI, for example, has been developed through a rigorous and extensive stakeholder process led by CalSTA and outlines many of the key moves that must be taken to align transportation funding with our state’s climate, equity and public health goals and values. As the May Revise spending proposal moves forward, ClimatePlan urges the Governor to align any new transportation funding in this budget with plans like CAPTI and the strategies they contain. 

Fourteen ClimatePlan network partners recently worked together to submit a letter to Governor Newsom and Secretary Kim regarding the need for alignment in funding. The full letter can be read here. ClimatePlan also recently hosted a meeting with Assembly Transportation Committee consultants and network partners to discuss CAPTI and the budget. 

To capitalize on the May Revise dollars, it’s worth considering some key questions. 

  • How is the Governor threading the needle to make sure that May Revise dollars are supporting and aligning with key, stakeholder-driven plans and initiatives, like CAPTI and the Climate Change Scoping Plan?
  • How is the Governor ensuring that surplus dollars fill the funding gaps needed to support implementation of these plans, while ensuring the plans are metrics-driven, bring about tangible progress, and are making the transformative and historic impact our state needs when it comes to climate change? 
  • How is the Governor prioritizing spending in a way that is equitable as we reduce emissions, protect our natural and working lands, and electrify the state?
  • How is the Governor making certain that state agencies (OPR, CalTrans, CalSta, CARB, and others) are regularly convening and working collaboratively to ensure comprehensive and thorough implementation of the great plans they’re creating? 

“The May Revise proposals really recognize that Californians face the most difficult air pollution challenges in the United States, and that transportation pollution is at the root of the problem,” said Will Barrett, Director of Clean Air Advocacy with the American Lung Association. “Many of Governor Newsom’s proposals would help not only reduce transportation health burdens, but also reduce disparities caused by decades of inequitable investments in our transportation systems. Given California’s most impacted communities are suffering from the effects of pollution today, the Governor and Legislature must move immediately to invest in active transportation, transit and zero-emission transportation to benefit our most impacted communities.”

Governor Newsom is right - there is no more time to play “small ball.” Many Californians feel the very real threat of drought and wildfires in our state. Given our climate crisis and the pandemic, we are due for transformational and historic change. 

As we move forward, however, we want to make sure we’re not just sprinkling surplus dollars, but rather taking the opportunity to strategically and concertedly align our spending with the comprehensive plans in place. The ClimatePlan network will continue to work with the Governor's office, state agencies, and regional partners to ensure these plans are implemented. We are hopeful.



  • $1.8 billion for Zero Emission Vehicle Programs, $826 million in the May Revise in addition to $965 million proposed in the Governor's original budget
  • $500 million for Active Transportation Program (ATP)
  • $400 million for Clean Cars 4 All 
  • $4.2 billion for high-speed rail 

Land Use

  • $500 million for Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) grants, which will help regions with Sustainable Community Strategies (SCS) implementation to increase infill development and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction projects 


  • $1.47 billion ($85 million General Fund and $1.39 billion federal funds) over two years to expand and protect water supplies by protecting drinking water and wastewater infrastructure
  • $371 million General Fund over two years to facilitate groundwater recharge and capture of flood flows
  • $360 million ($240 million General Fund and $120 million federal funds) over two years to support Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Environmental Justice

  • Over $1 billion towards environmental justice projects like toxic waste clean-ups
  • $420 million to Transformative Climate Communities program 

  • ClimatePlan
    published this page in Blog 2021-06-01 12:50:05 -0700

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