California State Parks are in trouble. Again.
Sitting in my jammies watching Saturday morning cartoons. That’s the last time I remember enjoying an education on the political process. Remember “I’m Just a Bill”? How come they don’t have a Schoohouse Rock to explain the California state budget?
We Are Not Happy With Our State’s $20 BILLION Deficit
- According to the Public Policy Institute of California’s (PPIC) Statewide Survey*, 75% of Californians say the budget situation is a big problem.
- California State Parks are about to take another hit and it makes me sick to my stomach.
- If you’re like me, you feel helpless to change anything.
- If you’re like me, you’re tired of spending more and getting less.
The purpose of this post is to educate you on the options facing us:
Solution Option #1: California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund of 2010
- Right now, I pay $125 a year for my California State Parks annual pass. Or I pay $10-$15 day use fees every time I visit the parks without my pass.
- If we can get the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund onto the November ballot and have the voter’s pass it — Californians with registered vehicles will have access to ALL 278 state parks (by paying $18 into the Trust Fund when you pay your registration).
- $18 a year. That’s $1.50 per month. Not quite 5 cents a day. To preserve our state parks for future generations and make them more accessible for those living today.
- I think it’s a deal. It’s a steal! I get excited thinking about all the people who might start using the parks when that $10 or $15 dollars for a ONE TIME visit doesn’t stand in the way.
Solution Option #2: The Governor’s Proposal
- Right now, the Governor is calling to eliminate public funding for state parks and replace it with controversial funding from offshore oil drilling!
Solution Option #3: Ideas Anyone?
- I don’t know of any other options on the table. Let me know if you do.
State Budget 101 and Our State Parks
- Where does the state budget money come from?* Personal income tax is the #1 source of income for the state. Sales tax is a distant second. So when there are huge layoffs, jobs leaving the state, and we stop spending because we’re in a recession — then the state budget takes a huge hit.
- Do you know the four main areas of state spending?* The biggest areas of spending are K-12 education followed by health and human services, higher education, and finally, prisons.
- For the last two years, the California State Park Foundation, with the help of state residents, has been fighting a battle to keep state parks open and from falling into irreversible disrepair.
- As an added bonus, passing this initiative would FREE UP approximately $130 million from the state’s General Fund and make it available to the spending areas listed above.
“But I Don’t Go to State Parks – Why Should I Pay?”
- C’mon. It’s $18 dollars A YEAR.
- Don’t you think you might go at least once after you put in your $18 investment into a Trust Fund for the people of California and beyond? I hope you do.
- Once we lose these parks, this wildlife, these open spaces — they will be gone forever. We can’t take that chance.
- You must know some families with kids — or friends — who make use of the parks. It’s a Good Samaritan thing to do. I think giving friends (or even strangers) the gift of connecting to nature is very honorable.
- If you are already paying for an annual pass, you’ll actually save money.
- I could go on . . . and on . . .
Take Action – Concrete Ways to Help Save Our Parks
- Visit the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) Take Action page. Help gather signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. Fill out an endorsement form. Sign the petition when someone approaches you about it.
- Educate yourself further by visiting YES for State Parks. They have a Get Involved page which spells out a bunch of different ways to lend your voice to the cause without putting in much time.
- GO TO THE PARKS! Play. Get outside. Enjoy this incredible resource.
- VOTE in November.
*Mark Baldassare is Survey Director (and also happens to be Mr. Play Parks professor and mentor from our UCI days). The Public Policy Institute of California is the source of the data. PPIC is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. PPIC bears no responsibility for the interpretations presented or conclusions reached based on analysis of the data.