Santa Barbara Independent | By Supervisor Das Williams, October 30, 2020

Whenever I compare notes with supervisors in other counties we commiserate on the constant barrage of new disasters to contend with. Climate change has caused wildfires to hit new records — in size and destruction, which our governor said were the likes of which we’ve never seen. Before the fires sparked across the state, though, we were already in what seemed to be the fight of a lifetime as COVID-19 was and still is wreaking havoc on communities — affecting both the health of our residents and the viability of our local economies.

Santa Barbara has survived its share of wildfires, including the monster Thomas Fire in 2017, and while we have not been faced with a wildfire this year, we have not been immune to the financial deficits caused by the pandemic. Local governments up and down California are in search of opportunities for additional funding to combat future fires and to help our communities get back on their feet as we wade through the financial struggles of COVID-19.

That is why elected officials, including Governor Newsom, State Controller Betty Yee, Treasurer Fiona Ma, and local leaders from nearly every California community, including in Santa Barbara, are in support of Proposition 19.

Proposition 19 will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sustainable, long-term funding for schools and local governments, and it will also create a historic, dedicated fire fund that cannot be raided — bringing nearly $100 million at the end of the first year and an astounding $6.1 billion by the end of the twelfth year. This will help many communities along the Central Coast by providing firefighters with resources that are desperately needed and will save countless homes and lives.

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