Cal Cities pushing for climate bond as deadline looms

Jun 26, 2024

By Melissa Sparks-Kranz, legislative affairs lobbyist (environmental quality), and By Zack Cefalu, legislative affairs analyst 

Cal Cities is in strong support of ongoing negotiations by the Legislature to place a climate bond on the November ballot — if lawmakers adopt amendments to support local efforts to meet the state’s climate goals. Climate change resiliency and disaster preparedness are among Cal Cities' top advocacy priorities for 2024.

The fast-approaching deadline for measures to qualify for the November ballot is technically June 27. However, the Legislature tipped its hand earlier this week when Senate Speaker Pro Tem Mike McGuire stated lawmakers are seeking an extension from the Secretary of the State until July 3 to add bond measures to the ballot, perhaps signaling they are close to a final deal.

Two legislative bills introduced in 2023, AB 1567 (Garcia) and SB 867 (Allen), currently propose an approximately $15 billion climate bond. Cal Cities has a support if amended position on both bills and is seeking changes that expand the types of projects the bonds can fund.

Only one bill will move forward next week if both houses can come to a final agreement on the long-awaited climate bond. The Senate and the Assembly have been in negotiations since April, debating the size of the bond — now estimated to be between $8 to $10 billion — and which specific categories the bond will fund. The Legislature will then need to secure a two-thirds vote in both houses to place the bond in the voter’s hands in November.

Cal Cities is advocating for five main categories: waste and recycling, energy, water, coastal resilience, and community and wildfire resilience. Some outside watchers think the water, coastal, and wildfire resilience categories will be included in the bond since these issues are top priorities for voters.

Cal Cities, alongside the California State Association of Counties, Urban Counties of California, California Special District Associations, and Big City Mayors, in asking lawmakers to include funding to help meet the state’s carbon neutrality and greenhouse gas reduction goals and keep costs down for residents.

Cal Cities has significant concerns about funding the state’s transition to clean vehicles and the fast-approaching state deadlines for cities, counties, and special districts to do so. Cal Cities is also fighting for funding for organic waste infrastructure, which is sorely needed to meet cities’ state-mandated emissions reduction from landfills. These bond dollars will help reduce that burden on local governments and ratepayers.

Stay tuned for more news from Cal Cities in the next week, as the negotiations continue.