More than two dozen lawmakers are asking Governor Jerry Brown to repeal the state's new fire fee, after thousands of Kern County residents were forced to pay it.
The push comes after new reports surfaced that Cal Fire hid millions of dollars in a non-profit account, not disclosed to the state.
Some groups are calling the fee an illegal tax. It has generated more than $80 million from across the state. Nearly $4 million of that came from Kern County residents.
Those in rural areas started receiving bills in mid-August, $150 owed to the state for a fire prevention fee.
But, after both the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal reported the State Department of Forestry hid $3.6 million, many lawmakers were outraged.
The reports show Cal Fire used $33,000 on a Pismo Beach conference trip and $600,000 on 26 evidence sheds and 600 digital cameras.
That money should have been deposited in the state's general fund, and some lawmakers want taxpayers' money returned.
"They cannot put money into a secret fund. Have it administered off the state books by the county District Attorney's Association. That's almost criminal, and what we are concerned about is this administration hasn't shown any appetite to go after their department heads or their departments. So, we want an outside agency to investigate this because we feel that taxpayers have been misled," said Senate Republican Leader, Bob Huff.
Cal Fire Spokesman Daniel Berlant says allegations that this money was hidden are false.
State Senator Jean Fuller calls the hidden money disturbing, saying residents should not have to pay more when Cal Fire has extra money lying around that has been hidden from the public.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association has filed a lawsuit against Cal Fire calling the fee an illegal tax.
The California Department of Finance has started an audit that's expected to take about two months.