Sunday, May 31, 2009

Closing California

I grew up in San Francisco and various parts of Northern California, so I'm somewhat sentimental about the stunning beauty of the state, much of it protected within the state parks. Now the state has a budget crisis (mostly of their own making), and Arnie is proposing cutting everything that is good (at DownWithTyranny Dr. Kirk Murphy has a great post about the impact on health care), because he can't possibly raise taxes:

Nearly every state park in the Bay Area — from the towering redwoods at Big Basin to Angel Island, Mount Tamalpais to Mount Diablo and every state beach from Año Nuevo in San Mateo County to Big Sur — would close as part of budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In all, 220 of California's 279 state parks, about 80 percent, would be padlocked starting as soon as Labor Day, under details of a historic closing plan released Thursday night by the state parks department.


On Tuesday, as part of an effort to close the state's $24 billion deficit, Schwarzenegger unveiled a series of proposed cuts. They included a plan to eliminate $70 million in state general fund money to parks in the year that ends in June 2010 and $143 million of that funding by June 2011. The latter number represents 40 percent of the state park system's $387 million operating budget.

Layoffs could hit 1,500 or more of the 2,900 state parks employees

Remarkably short-sighted, but Californian's have a long history of bad planning in their quest for immediate gratification. Cutting taxes and hoping that magic elves will take care of everything has been the California system for decades. Here's a simple equation: a study by the University of California-Berkeley found that for every $1 in public money spent on state parks, $2.35 is returned to the state in taxes from tourism and other revenue they generate. So the current proposal will only make the deficit worse in the future.

Julia Pfiffer Burns State Park

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