In what is at this writing old news, California's Governor called for a closing of 80% of California's state parks to save $70 million of a $24 billion dollar budget deficit.
As usual, I inundated my assemblymember and state senator, as well as Governor Terminator, with e - mails questioning the sanity of such a plan. How long would parks be "mothballed"? Has anyone in Sacramento given much thought, or taken any postive action this year other than to vote themselves a pay increase? Why no public stands against the proposed closures by our members of the legislature?
The sad fact is that our state representatives continue to create fashioanble pieces of needless legislation while ignoring the looming budget crisis. I've not received a response yet, in almost two weeks, from any of my state reps. And while I'm not opposed to what are sure to be broad, painful cuts across the board, killing off 80% of a budget to an agency that serves 80 million visitors each year seems a little...vindictive.
And perhaps the governor wants to make his developer pals happy by selling off state parklands in an effort to offset the budget deficit. The clock is ticking, he keeps telling us, and California be out of money by July.
But to muddy the waters just a bit more, the Governor was in the news again last week, telling us that the $4 to $5 billion spent on health care and social programs for illegal immigrants was a drop in the bucket. Heck, that's 20% of our budget shortfall right there. And there's the operative word again - "illegal." Another piece of payback to agribusiness who couldn't run without generous and illegal partnership from across our southern border? Yet, $70 million savings by closing most of our state park and rec areas, no matter the tens of millions served, is a big deal.
Frankly, I expect much less dramatic cuts to state parks. They're already on a razor - thin operating plan, in need of some love from Sacramento. But our Legislature has the blinders firmly aimed in the direction of another crisis because they refuse to take charge of the financial condition of the state. As a lay person (and voter, I must add), I can see the redundancies and waste in so many agencies within our state government structure. Why can't our lawmakers?
As a voter, I urge those of you who feel the same to take on this stance in 2010: Incumbants OUT, Common Sense IN. Let them know, as soon as you can, that our state parks are off limits to cuts. Too many people will have fewer places to get away from the daily drama of life in The Golden State if they shut parks. Fight for the parks. E - mail the Governor and your legislators today.