One of my best friends here at Stanford is from Santa Barbara, Calif. While her house has been saved, many of her friends from back home have evacuated their homes due to California's annual misery.
Droughts have plagued California and caused deadly wildfires for the past 10 years, at least. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned and thousands of homes have been destroyed. Lives have been uprooted all over southern California.
Fiscally, the state is in dire straits. Last year, according to the Sacramento Bee, more than 2,000 California wildfires scorched more than 1.3 million acres and produced far and away the most expensive firefighting season in state history. Last year's fiscal budget for wildfire costs was $82 million, but the state ended up spending $518 million. Only $146 million was reimbursed by the federal government for work by state crews on federal lands.
This year could turn worse quickly. About $388 million of the budgeted $437 million has already been spent, and the summer months have yet to commence. With California's budget in a teetering state, the governor has proposed a 2.8 percent property insurance increase to help pay for the rapidly rising costs of wildfires.
If this season turns out to be as bad as last year's, another punch would be thrown at California's already weak budget infrastructure.
Photo: Wildfires ravage southern California ... again. (Keith D. Cullom/Associated Press)