The California Department of Food and Agriculture is taking another round of cuts — $2.5 million this time — in the new state budget.
It may not end there. The budget signed June 27 by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, is balanced on the premise that voters will approve $8.5 billion in new taxes in November.
Brown’s initiative aims to raise that much annually by adding a quarter cent to the sales tax for four years, and increasing income taxes for seven years on those earning $250,000 or more.
“We are mindful that if that doesn’t pass there will be additional cuts,” CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said in a conference call. “Most of those will come out of public education and public safety, but I would anticipate that all agencies may be faced with additional cuts later this year.
“Even if it does pass, it does not mean that we will be bumping up our programs or adding staff. It will mean merely holding the line where we are.”
The cuts could have been worse, Ross said, if CDFA’s mission were less valued by elected officials.
“I’m pleased it didn’t go any larger,” she said. “The governor personally understands the importance of our programs and the need for us to protect the state from invasive species and animal diseases.”
CDFA’s state general fund support has shrunk from $99.1 million to $63 million in a series of cuts dating back to the start of 2011.
The latest is $2.5 million and includes:
- A $1 million cut to border protection stations. “They’re an important part of the system that matters to our trading partners,” Ross said. “We are trying to keep the stations open.” CDFA plans to close some stations part-time, and put others on rotating hours.
- A $750,000 cut to pest exclusion activities, mainly trapping and inspections. CDFA will review interception data and target lower risk areas, Ross said.
- A $250,000 cut to the Medfly Preventive Release program in the Los Angeles Basin. Releases in an outlier area will be eliminated.
- A $250,000 reduction for the Animal Health and Food Safety Services division, which is being reorganized.
- $125,000 reduction cuts for both the Division of Measurement Standards and the executive office policy and planning function.
“Many in the industry are having discussions about how to bring more stability to our operating budget and what are smart and reasonable alternative revenue streams,” Ross said. “But at this point we will be managing these cuts. We will be doing some reorganizations, and our decision makers will work closely with our stakeholders.”