Lawmakers Ask For Repeal Of Fire Tax

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A group of Republican lawmakers is saying a controversial fund used by Cal Fire to fund fire investigation training and equipment is an example of why a fire protection tax is misguided.

The Sacramento Bee reported that a fire recovery fund which uses money from settlements from entities that are responsible for starting wild land fires is being spent outside normal budget channels.

Senator Jim Nielsen called it a slush fund that isn’t overseen by the legislature or the Department of Finance.  He and other Republican lawmakers say the rural fire tax should be abolished and the money collected should go back to taxpayers because Cal Fire funds are being mismanaged.

Cal Fire denies the fund was kept secret or that the money was misspent.  The agency  says the money was spent on training and equipment used to detect the causes of fires.  It also says some $3.7 million dollars in the recovery fund resulted in identifying those responsible for fires and recovering around $90 million dollars that went to the state’s general fund budget.

Still the Finance Department said it didn’t know about the fund or how the money was spent.  A State Parks fund hidden from budget analysts resulted in a scandal because that agency supposedly hand no money to keep park facilities open.

A State department of Finance audit of the Cal Fire budget is currently underway.

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