A bill in the spring to hike the insurers' tax rate for property and casualty premiums failed to gain a floor vote. Now, for the legislative session that begins next month, the idea is to add a surcharge of
The money would go toward forest-health projects and programs to help landowners in fire-prone communities, and additional firefighters and fire engines.
It could also buy a modern helicopter to supplement the
In an interview, Public Lands Commissioner
But, "I believe there is broad support at the public community level and at the legislative level" for dedicated wildfire funding, said Franz, who oversees the
The proposal, which would create an account in the state budget dedicated to wildfire prevention and preparedness, is projected to raise
From 2013 to 2018, it cost an average
The bill that failed this spring would have hiked the tax paid by insurance companies to 2.52%, up from the existing 2%.
The change to a surcharge on premiums in the current plan is an effort to find common ground with opponents of last year's proposed tax, according to
Under the new proposal, a family with one home and two cars insured would pay "
"I think there's a good case for everybody in the state to chip in for preventing catastrophes like that in the future," he said.
Since the back-to-back, record-breaking fire seasons of 2014 and 2015, improving
While fires have traditionally been considered a problem for
With climate change forecast to increase summer temperatures in the
In January, Franz laid out a 10-year strategic plan to combat wildfires. But, "A plan is only so good as the investment made to implement them," she said.
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