Good News Friday: State Parks Will Not Close!
A surprise announcement from state officials came this afternoon in the form of no state park closures. Wow. A big improvement from the original proposal to close 80 percent of parks last Spring, which eventually was weeded down to 100 park closures in the summer. As state park officials worked on a closure list, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped in with renewed interest this week, offering assistance in the form of experts from the Department of Finance.
The number crunchers dove into the state park's budget, finding a few money saving moves including reducing maintenance and major equipment purchases and by reducing service such as closing parks on weekdays or partially closing a portion of the park. No specifics on the latter savings were mentioned and longer-term money savings will be examined in the next budget cycle.
"The announcement today is a victory for the parks and for the people of California, but shows once again that we need to find a permanent funding plan for our parks," said Dan Jacobson of Environment California. "The legislature and the Governor will have to work together in the 2010 legislative session to find a long term funding solution.”
A proposal to permanently fund parks was shot down this summer by Schwarzenegger and Republicans. However, that same idea is being worked on as a possible ballot initiative. If it were pass, a $15 fee on all annual vehicle registrations would more than pay for the state parks system and allow free parking for all cars with California license plates.
The full State Parks press release is below.