SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's governor has signed a law that creates a fund of up to $21 billion to pay victims of the state's devastating wildfires.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law on Friday; one day after the state legislature passed it. Half of the money will come from customers. Utility companies have the option of kicking in another $10.5 billion for a total of $21 billion.

But before utilities can use the money to pay claims, they will have to spend at least $5 billion combined on safety improvements.

Newsom pushed back against critics who said the bill was passed too quickly without enough time for lawmakers and advocates to review it. He said lawmakers will return in August to take up other wildfire prevention measures.


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