At a noontime press conference today, the California State Parks announced its long-anticipated plans to close 70 of its 278 parks "due to budget cuts." The department stated in a press release:
The closures are necessary to achieve an $11 million reduction in the next fiscal year 2011/12, and $22 million in the following fiscal year 2012/13. These cuts were mandated by AB 95, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in March.
“We regret closing any park,” said Ruth Coleman, director of California State Parks, “but with the proposed budget reductions over the next two years, we can no longer afford to operate all parks within the system.”
“These cuts are unfortunate, but the state’s current budget crisis demands that tough decisions be made,” said Resources Secretary John Laird. “Hopefully, Republicans in the legislature will agree to allow California voters to decide whether we extend currently existing taxes or make deeper cuts to our parks.”
We'll have the complete list of the parks to be closed posted shortly. And stay tuned for a report from Sacramento bureau chief John Myers, who attended (and tweeted) the press conference .
CA parks operations dir Tony Perez seems 2 choke up a bit as he announces park closures."This is hard," he says. #cabudget
— John Myers (@johnmyers) May 13, 2011
Update 12:43pm: The State Parks web site is getting slammed, so here's a list of the closures provided by the Sacramento Bee. Here's the complete list directly from the State Parks department in pdf form.
Update 5:58 p.m.: The California Republican Party, which has held fast to its "no new taxes" line and is blocking Governor Brown's proposal for a statewide vote on tax extensions to help deal with the state's budget deficit, isn't happy with the state park closures. Here's a statement issued this afternoon by party spokesman Mark Standriff:
If California families are such a priority to Jerry Brown, then why close down the public services that families enjoy the most? It's a 'Washington Monument Strategy' that is both cynical and manipulative, and shows little respect for the taxpayers he hopes will support his floundering budget plan.
Is Jerry really trying to convince us that he's already cut every penny from the non-essential parts of the budget and only the essential parts are left unscathed? Once again, the Governor has shown that he would rather protect the bureaucracy at the expense of families than protect families at the expense of bureaucracy.