Jerry Brown vetoes reimbursement bill for San Bernardino responders
September 26, 2016
California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Sunday that would have required the state to fully reimburse local agencies that responded to the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino. The bill had unanimously passed both the State Assembly and Senate.
After a state-declared emergency occurs, the federal government provides some reimbursement for the costs of responding to the disaster. Under California rules, the state then typically pays for 75 percent of the remaining costs, while local agencies are responsible for covering the other 25 percent.
In the case of the San Bernardino attack, the total bill for the non-federal share of the emergency response costs is $6.4 million. SB 1385, which was authored by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), would have required the state to cover the local agencies’ $1.6 million share of the bill, in addition to the state’s $4.8 million expenses.
Over the past few decades, the state has provided full reimbursement for the costs of responding to numerous emergencies, including earthquakes, fire, floods, mudslides and landslides. Locally, agencies that responded to the 2003 San Simeon earthquake received full reimbursement.
However, in vetoing the San Bernardino bill, Brown issued a statement saying he did not want to set a precedent.
“I recognize the unique circumstances of this horrific terrorist attack. However, this bill sets the expectation that the state will assume all the financial responsibility for future emergency costs. The general fund cannot afford this precedent,” Brown said in his statement.
The governor did say the California Office of Emergency Services would continue working with local agencies in San Bernardino to ensure the state reimburses them for all costs eligible under California law.
SB 1385 passed the Assembly on an 80-0 vote, and the State Senate voted 39-0 in favor of the bill. The legislation notes that the city of San Bernardino is still grappling with its recent bankruptcy, and San Bernardino County has a 20 percent poverty index.