The outlook for California state parks took a positive turn last week after some budget action in Sacramento. On Wednesday evening, Gov. Brown signed the FY 2012-13 Budget with a little added funding for state parks. The budget does not “save” state parks. However, the budget does preserve some of the additional funding for state parks that the Legislature proposed in the final budget.
(1) The governor approved redirecting $13 million from existing unspent Prop 84 funds to a new State Park Enterprise Fund that can be only used for capital projects intended to generate new revenue for state parks, or to help them improve fee collection. Note: this is not new money; it was already in DPR’s budget.
(2) The governor approved $3 million from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund and $7 million from the Motor Vehicle Fuel Account that can be used for state park operations.
(3) The governor did veto some pieces of the Sustainable Parks Proposal, including $7 million of the originally proposed $10 million fund transfer from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund to State Parks, and the transfer of $10 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to State Parks.
We are pleased to see the funding for the State Park Enterprise Fund included in this budget, and we support efforts to identify new opportunities for DPR to generate revenues and more efficiently collect user fees. However, this funding is another temporary solution. State parks continue to face a budget crisis resulting in service reductions and unprecedented closures. In other words, we are not out of the woods yet.