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BoatUS, RBOC yield results for boaters in California State budget negotiations

by Scott Croft 22 May 08:20 PDT
BoatUS and RBOC have been advocating for boaters during recent California budget negotiations and getting results © Scott Croft

The voices of recreational boaters, more than 4,000 strong who recently contacted their California state legislators and governor's office asking for a more responsible and fair boat registration fee increase, have been heard.

During recent budget negotiations, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC) and a coalition of additional stakeholders won hard-earned concessions that save Golden State boaters money, leads to a path that more equitably funds Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) programs and beach replenishment efforts, and support funding for construction, maintenance and operations of public recreation facilities at state water projects.

"Advocacy works," said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. "Legislators clearly listened, and we thank them for understanding our needs."

At issue was a budget proposal on the table for a 250% boat registration fee increase. BoatUS/RBOC worked to reduce the increase to 100%, which now increases the cost of a two-year California recreational boat registration from $20 to $40.

Also at stake was the California State Parks' critical Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund (HWRF), which supports the state's AIS efforts as well as boating infrastructure and programs such as launch ramp construction, maintenance, and repair; boating safety; registration; and enforcement programs. As recently as 2019, the HWRF had teetered on insolvency. BoatUS and RBOC were able to take a proposed two-year, $20 million spending level and increase it by $10.7 million for the next four years, totaling more than $60 million in HWRF funding, adding stability to the fund.

The state had also been raiding HWRF for beach restoration. "It makes no sense for boaters to carry the burden of beach replenishment for the entire state, and we are glad legislators agreed with us by including a provision that would suspend transfers of HWRF funds to the public beach restoration fund," added Kennedy.

State legislators are expected to vote on the budget by early June.

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