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Will Californians pay more to save state parks?

Parks Proposition 21 on California's November ballot is being closely watched as a possible solution to widespread budget woes afflicting state parks around the nation. California parks have seemingly been pulled from the brink of wholesale closure — as proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger last year. But the future of the nation's oldest and largest state park system is far from secure.

The proposition would impose an $18 surcharge on motor vehicle registration. The levy is expected to raise $500 million a year and would for the first time provide consistent funding for state parks and wildlife conservation programs. The state would eliminate day-use fees and parking charges for California residents, although camping fees and boat launching charges would remain.

According to the legislative analyst's office, about $200 million currently spent on parks would remain in the general fund, available for other uses. Current funding for the state parks accounts for one-tenth of 1% of the $85-billion state budget.

Although Schwarzenegger's threat to close the parks may have been grandstanding, around the country it's a real prospect, especially in the West, where officials in Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Washington confronting huge budget overruns are considering options such as closing, privatizing or selling parks.

Closures have happened in Arizona, where the budget for the state park system has been effectively hijacked, the governor raided a voter-approved conservation and land-acquisition fund, and the Legislature stopped directing lottery revenue to a parks heritage fund.

Read the full story here.

--Julie Cart

Comments () | Archives (9)

I won't pay this state money for state parks, how much money have we put into education and look what it got us!!!!

why charge car drivers park fees? charge the park visitors!

I'm all for keeping the parks open, but I don't think this tax is how to do it.
Maybe if our legislators would do their job and plan for funding state parks in their budgets, the cost would be covered by regular taxes.
Or, they should keep the entry/use fees , but sell us discount passes to people who want them when we register our vehicles.

"The proposition would impose an $18 surcharge on motor vehicle registration."
This price seem a very high, however we need to accept if provide consistent funding for state parks and wildlife conservation programs.

Californians may want to pay more, but they are not being given the chance. The only ones who will pay more are those who choose to own a car. How about raising bus fares, so those wonderful public transit riders can contribute to the parks? Or better yet, a small increase in the sales tax, so all can enjoy contributing to the parks.

I agree this is just another tax and I'm voting NO on prop 21.

I would vote for users paying the fee. Why should motorist pay for something they don't use?

How about cutting back and eliminating public assistance to all these people who refuse to work...No more housing assistance and food stamps...
That should help the Park system...

I never use the park system but am willing to pony up for some things that I dont use.


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