California’s new governor on Tuesday proposed spending $105 million more annually on wildfire safety in the wake of devastating fires that have cost billions of dollars in damage.
The funding increase would allow for more helicopters, remote infrared cameras that can help detect fires, better alert systems and new technologies for tapping satellite images, the Sacramento Bee reported.
“Broad strokes, we are stepping up our game. I hear you, I get it, we have to do more,” Democrat Gavin Newsom, 51, said during his first full day in office alongside emergency service officials at a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) station.
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The increase in funding would be in addition to the $200 million the state’s Legislature already set aside last fall for the state’s forestry management, bringing new spending to $305 million, Newsom said.
“Broad strokes, we are stepping up our game. I hear you, I get it, we have to do more.”
Part of the proposed increase would be spent overhauling the state’s 911 system, the Bee reported. Newsom said he wants to spend $10 million this year and $50 million next year, and wants the expenses to eventually be covered by Californians through a “relatively modest” fee on their monthly phone bills.
Newsom also wants to fund mental health services for first responders and hire more firefighters, the Bee reported.
A day earlier, Newsom pushed a sweeping new health care agenda for California that would offer dramatically more benefits to illegal immigrants and help protect the Affordable Care Act, which a federal judge recently struck down as unconstitutional.
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Newsom also hinted his intention of abandoning the relative fiscal restraint that marked the most recent tenure of his predecessor, Jerry Brown, from 2011 to 2019. Brown sometimes rebuked progressive efforts to spend big on various social programs.
“For eight years, California has built a foundation of rock,” Newsom said during his inaugural remarks. “Our job now is not to rest on that foundation. It is to build our house upon it.”
Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco, served as lieutenant governor under Brown.
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.