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Are State Parks Actually Saved? There's Spin Behind Schwarzenegger's Announcement, Says Advocates

At the Salton Sea State Recreation Area | Photo by doisneau via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
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Elizabeth Goldstein, President of the California State Parks Foundation, is calling bullshit on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's announcement that state parks are saved. No details beyond the announcement have been released since last Friday, but Goldstein says read between the lines:

The really damning thing is that all of these "solutions" were things the Department was thinking about doing anyway. What isn't in the press release is when these cuts will be implemented, or how many parks will be affected. The Department was projecting impacts to 100 parks. Has that number just gone up to 279 - the entire California State Park system? So will Californians have safe, open and well maintained parks? I doubt it! The cuts today are just the same size as they were before. The Governor has not reduced them, or next year's budget cut expectations. Remember: Shell Game.

This is where the rubber will really hit the road. The budget cut for next year is $22.2 million. That $22.2 million is made up of the continuance of this year's cut of $14.2 million and another $8 million. The budget cut for next year is already "scored" by the Department of Finance. In other words, that means they are counting on it to make the budget next year. If the Governor does not reduce that cut in this January's budget proposal, we will know the truth.

As the budget cycle turns, environmental groups may sponsor a ballot initiative for the November 2010 election that would fund state parks independently. If passed, a $15 annual vehicle license fee would raise around $400 million for parks, doubling current budget needs. In exchange, parking fees at parks would be a thing of the past.