PHOENIX — Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed a package that invests nearly $100 million to "combat and prevent wildfires, equip firefighters and communities with the resources they need, and prepare for after effects such as flooding and mudslides."
The governor called state leaders into a special session to address the issue as the Telegraph and Mescal fires spread last week near Globe.
“We are in the midst of another catastrophic wildfire season, and it’s clear that we need to do more to fight these wildfires,” said Ducey. “Many Arizona communities have already felt the impacts of this year’s wildfire season — people and pets have been displaced, homes have burned down, swaths of land have been decimated. I’m grateful that we were able to quickly come together in a bipartisan manner for the safety and protection of our communities. My thanks goes to our first responders working tirelessly to combat these fires, local and state agency leaders for their leadership during this time, and the legislators who worked across the aisle to get this bill passed.”
"We blew through our 2021 budget in the first day. 2022 budget is gone. It's already spent," said Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers.
"Right now it's extremely important that those impacted get the support that they need," said House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding Jr.
According to the Governor's Office, the proposal consists of two targeted investments:
- $24.6 million to the Department of Forest and Fire Management and the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry to reduce wildfire risk through hazardous vegetation removal.
- $75 million for fire suppression efforts, recovery efforts including post-fire floods, economic assistance for those displaced, and assistance to landowners for emergency repairs to infrastructure damaged by wildfires.
As of Friday the Telegraph Fire has burned 176,122 acres and is 72% contained. The Mescal Fire has burned 72,250 acres and is 88% contained.
Despite the broad approval, minority Democrats say the state needs to do more to address the root cause of the drought and resulting wildfires, which they say is climate change.