California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday called the wildfire situation in the state part of "the new normal." He said California has the money to fight fires today, but cautioned things could get tighter in coming years due to a likely downturn.
More than a dozen major wildfires are burning in the state, including the monster Carr fire in Northern California that has already destroyed more than 1,000 homes and killed six people. Seventeen large fires have burned more than 250,000 acres and thousands of residents still are evacuated.
"So far, this fire activity is a small part of our very large budget but it is a growing part and will continue to grow as we adapt to the changing weather," Brown said during a news conference about wildfires at the State Operations Center in Mather, California.
Through last Friday, California had already spent $115 million on emergency firefighting since the start of the July 1 fiscal year, or about one-fourth of the state's $442.8 million annual so-called e-fund budget. However, if the state's fire costs exceed its e-fund budget in fiscal 2018-19, California can tap into its traditional budget reserves.
"There's money in this year's budget," Brown said, noting that the state is experiencing its ninth year of recovery. "We have a rainy day fund. We're not down to our last dollar at this point."
However, the governor conceded that the state will at some point experience a downturn in the economy that likely will change its fiscal situation. When that happens, he said the state could resort to borrowing if needed.