It will probably make a lot more sense if you have read Part One and
Part Three: The Article.
So the petition came with one link listed as source. That link led me to a Huffington Post blog article titled Schwarzenegger Would Close 220 State Parks To Cut Deficit.
A few things bothered me while reading the article.
The first is that it is unequivocally biased. Count the number of people on each side of the issue that are represented. Count the number of quotes.
The stat of “$2.35 return for every dollar [spent]” (from the petition) is credited here to the State Parks Foundation with no mention of how they calculated it.
What I found very interesting also was this bit: “California spends roughly $400 million a year running 279 state parks and beaches, with roughly a third of the money coming from the state general fund. The rest comes from user fees, which account for slightly more than a quarter of the revenue; bond funds; gasoline taxes; federal money; and other sources.”
Doesn’t that mean that should the state stop paying for parks across the board, only one third (the part from the state general fund) would be taken away…leaving the parks with still two thirds coming from user fees?
Also, is this where the petition got the data for their bolded line of “In fact, 100% of parks funding only makes up 0.88% of the budget shortfall.” ? Because, ummm I don’t see that.
Food for thought.
But the real clincher is this is that we have hundreds of programs in this state, programs to feed, clothe, medically care for, provide safety services and emergency services for the residents. Everything from the DMV to the cops on the beat to food safety commissions get money from the state.
The question really then is of priorities. Someone somewhere said “look we have to save money… instead of cutting money to program XYZ, let’s cut it from the parks.”
Who was that someone? From the article: “Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines said the state cannot afford to subsidize state parks when lawmakers are being asked to make severe cuts in even more vital areas. "Parks are just not going to be a priority over public safety and education, as much as we hate to see them close," Villines said.”
Which begs the questions… what are Programs XYZ, and do we agree with this method of prioritization?
I sent emails asking that first question to both the staff of the Governor and to the staff of Mike Villines. That was a week ago. So far, no response.
Back to the article. The only link provided is to the website of the State Parks themselves. So I dutifully clicked through. I looked all over the State Parks Website for anything regarding budget cuts and could find nothing, even in the press releases.
I did find that there will be a meeting (teleconference) on June 12th (today) with the following as part of its agenda:
1. Update on the state budget proposal currently being considered by the legislature. Possible impacts of the proposed budget will be addressed by Director Ruth Coleman and Department of Parks and Recreation staff, as well as California State Parks partner organizations.
2. Commission discussion of the budget proposals and possible impacts. Determination of the Commission’s role in addressing consequences of the proposed budget, identification of strategies and possible actions to be taken by the Commission.
Minutes of these meetings are made public after the fact, I have sent an email requesting them… and so the saga continues….