It is only a stop-gap measure. But at least temporarily, the state of California will again pay the full amount of handling and processing fees to recycling centers that redeem bottles.
The bill, signed March 8 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, restores funding to pay those fees through the end of June.
The state stopped paying handling fees Oct. 20 and reduced funds for processing fees by 32 percent after an impasse between the governor and Legislature over how to fund the state's Beverage Container Recycling Fund.
Since 2002, the fund has loaned more than $500 million to the state general fund, leaving it unable to pay those fees in full. That financial squeeze led to the closing of more than 200 of the state's 1,200 recycling centers.
Schwarzenegger made it clear there is still work to be done to make the fund financially solvent.
This bill does not make the necessary long-term changes to the program and, therefore, the fund remains vulnerable to further program reductions beginning in the 2010-11 fiscal year, he wrote in a letter issued when he signed the bill.
Structural changes are essential before the next fiscal year begins.
In his January budget proposal, Schwarzenegger recommended that, starting in 2014, the state replace manufacturer fees with a non-refundable consumer fee on beverage containers based on their cost of recycling. The state estimates that would generate more than $150 million annually.
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