Cal-Fire Director Ruben Grijalva says he was taken aback that lawmakers pulled the so-called “emergency response initiative” from the budget.
“It was a little surprising, given the magnitude of the fires in Oct. of 07 and the lightning strikes in June that we weren’t able to get that through.”
Governor Schwarzenegger proposed the idea to tack a surcharge on to property owners’ insurance, ranging from around six to thirteen dollars. Democrats wanted to double that, but Republicans opposed the fee. Grijalva says Cal-Fire’s budget is still intact, but the fund would have paid for improvements, such as new fire engines and helicopters:
“They’re starting to age and it’s a few years away I think, but eventually unless they’re replaced, we’ll be grounding helicopters.”
Governor Schwarzenegger has said he’ll try again next year to push the initiative through.