Sacramento – Today, the California State Legislature passed its 2024 Budget Bill, which included $17.5 Million in funding cuts for water hauling in rural communities. Assemblyman Mathis issued the following statement after the vote:

“Today the California Legislature passed a State budget that would not adequately fund our police, our infrastructure, or our wildfire resistance. In the coming days, I’m sure we will all read detailed breakdowns about how this budget will further strain the finances of Californians while also not solving the fiscal problems that our government faces. I wanted to talk about one program in particular that is very vital to my District, which is unfortunately set to be cut. 

“Because of widespread drought that disproportionately impacts the Central Valley, many residents rely on a State-backed program, known as the California Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), which supplies hauled water to households who lost their water access as a result of drought. The budget proposal passed by the Legislature today would cut $17.5 Million that was previously allocated to this critical program. This will cut off water access to over 20,000 residents who rely on water hauling as they suffer from the lingering impacts of drought. Due to decades of Democratic Legislative inaction and groundwater mismanagement, which was further compounded by drought, over 2,000 household wells went dry in just the last 3 years in California. As a result, temporary water supplies, such as hauled water, were brought in through the CERF program, in collaboration with the State Water Board and non-profit organizations, like Self-Help Enterprises, to supply the immediate water needs for our residents while the State came up with a permanent solution to the crisis. 

“The water hauling and water tank program financed by CERF has already made significant progress in moving thousands of households off of temporary emergency water assistance all across the Central Valley. Without interim solutions, such as this vital water hauling program, Central Valley families that currently rely on CERF will lose the temporary relief that they currently have and will be forced to leave their homes permanently. The Legislature’s decision to cut tens of millions from this program will devastate rural and impoverished communities by immediately cutting off families from their only source of safe water. The Democratic, 1-party majority is putting over $1 Billion towards the failed high-speed rail project yet they refuse to allocate just $17.5 Million to a vital program that provides safe water to Central Valley families. With the impacts of drought still lingering and another record-breaking year of heat approaching the Central Valley, families cannot afford to lose access to water. I am calling on the State Legislature to immediately restore funding for this vital program while also being serious about passing a permanent solution to our State’s water crisis.”