On January 9, 2015 California Governor Jerry Brown released his Proposed Fiscal Year 2015-16 State Budget. Elizabeth Goldstein, President of the California State Parks Foundation released a statement about how she believes the state parks did:
State parks fared well in this budget proposal and we are pleased to see the era of state park closures seems to be behind us. We read the overall tone of the budget for state parks as one that anticipates state government really focusing on building a better future for our state parks. And we couldn’t agree more that a focus on that future, of truly moving our parks forward, is the collective priority for all of us in the state parks movement.
CSPF is especially pleased to see the commitment for $20 million in General Fund for deferred maintenance in state parks. While it remains a drop in the bucket toward a backlog estimated at more than $1.3 billion, like a parched California during a statewide drought, we eagerly welcome those essential drops in the bucket. Especially since last year’s proposal for $40 million for deferred maintenance needs was never enacted, this proposed $20 million is critical.
The state parks budget also includes a very modest increase in funding from the revenues that parks earn every year, and directs that specifically to continue existing service levels in parks. While we are very pleased this means no state park closures are on the horizon, the proposed $16 million increase is only one-time, and falls short of complete restoration of visitor services, hours of availability, and park amenities that will attract current and new visitors. The budget rightly points out that the case for a more certain and sustainable funding picture for our state parks system is needed, and we wholeheartedly agree. CSPF remains steadfastly committed to pursuing new and additional funding for our state parks system and we will continue to work with the Administration, Department, Legislature, and all our partners and stakeholders on this essential goal.
The new transformation team within the Department of Parks & Recreation is another positive signal of important changes that will make the Department and the parks system better equipped to manage state parks for the future and make state parks more relevant to all Californians. CSPF has already offered our organization’s help, research, and support for the effort to the team leadership and look forward to continuing to work with them.
We thank Governor Brown for a budget proposal that will now tee up important dialogue in the state Legislature about the future of our parks, and how to fund that future. We look forward to working with the governor’s office, the Legislature, the Department, and all our park partners and stakeholders to support this budget proposal and bring about positive and much-needed changes for our state parks.
The California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) is the only independent nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California’s 280 state parks.
You can visit CSPF’s website HERE.