Schwarzenegger Signs Budget, Adds More Cuts that are Expected to Close 100 State Parks

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger finally signed California's budget today, making additional cuts to fill a $1.1 billion gap left by legislators in their approved package. An additional $6.2 million was cut from state parks after an $8 million cut was proposed last week. That makes a total of $14.2 million, a number the Schwarzenegger's office predicts "will result in the closure of probably more than 100 parks."

"We pretty stunned by this news. This is incredibly disappointing," said Traci Verardo-Torres, Vice President of Government Affairs at the California Parks Foundation. "I think, for most Californians, this will take the place they most love and respect and want to visit off the table."

Explaining his decision in the budget package document (.pdf), Schwarzenegger said "I know this reduction will likely lead to closure of additional parks but we are facing unprecedented budget challenges and we have limited choices. I am directing the Department to do everything it can to work with local governments, the federal government, community based organizations, and other interested parties who can partner with the state to help mitigate any state park closures."

Yesterday, a state park official told LAist they are looking at all options to save parks including partnering with local governments to keep parks open during these economically turbulent times. "I don't think there is a safety net for more than 100 parks," warned Verardo-Torres who said that California is truly looking at real closures of many parks.

The state has not released a list of parks set to close. Major cuts were also made to child welfare services and AIDS prevention and treatment.