Could California’s parks be saved by raising car registration fees by $15?
The Legislature’s key budget committee recommended that action Monday to avoid having to close as many as 220 parks statewide, including every park in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
Now the political fight begins.
This was posted on the Press Democrat’s site early this morning. For the complete article, click here.
Thank you for writing to me about funding for our state parks system. Your input is important to me during these challenging times.
California’s natural beauty is renowned throughout the world, and I have made it my priority to protect our environment so future generations of Californians can continue to experience and enjoy what we have all come to love. Our state parks provide a fantastic introduction to the California experience and help bring our residents and visitors closer to our landscapes.
Unfortunately, the state cannot continue to bear the costs of supporting every program. Believe me when I say that these cuts have been the hardest decisions of my career as Governor, but we are in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Our revenues for the coming year are at least 27 percent below where they were projected to be just two short years ago. We now face a shortfall that has grown to $24.3 billion, and the people of California have made their voice clear: they want the state to live within its means and solve its problems through spending cuts and not tax increases.
To help manage our budget shortfall, I have proposed eliminating General Fund support for the Department of Parks and Recreation. I understand that these cuts will impact not only the lives of our park employees but the millions of park visitors who visit these national treasurers every year. In spite of these General Fund cuts, though, I will work to keep as many parks open as possible with funding from user fees. It may require raising entry and camping fees, expanding partnerships with local government and non-profit groups, and seeking additional creative ways to support our system in the future.
As I work with my partners in the Legislature to find solutions to these problems, know I will keep your thoughts in mind. Working together, I believe we can weather this storm and start the slow but steady march back toward prosperity.
After sending out an email via Surfrider’s action network, this was the response I (and I’m sure many others) received from the Governor. So let’s take into account for a second a couple of things mentioned in his letter.
Like how about the economy? Yes the nation is in a recession and the State of California is a few heartbeats away from financial flat-lining, but like the double-edged sword it is, the recession has meant folks have been staying closer to home when they vacation. Our state parks have reaped the benefits because of it. In my opinion, it’s an absurd notion to shut down something that pays for itself.
The governor says he understands that “these cuts will impact not only the lives of our park employees but the millions of park visitors who visit these national treasurers (sir, it would be “treasures”) every year.” He seems to have failed to take into account the impact these closures will have on local communities, who, especially on the north coast, rely on tourist dollars to keep their economies fueled.
As far as the General Fund goes, click here to learn more.
For more information, check out the California State Parks Foundation.