As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tostitos State Park

This is the legacy of historically unpopular Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his friends in the Yacht Party - corporate sponsorships for state parks.

State parks officials and nonprofit organizations scrambled Wednesday to find funding and possibly new corporate sponsors to keep as many as 100 parks and beaches open after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger slashed an additional $6.2 million out of the state parks system [...]

State officials won't finalize a list of park closures until Labor Day and said they hope to see the parks reopened in one to two years.

"We are actively seeking anyone who can help us with these places, all of them jewels, at a time when people need them most," said state parks Director Ruth Coleman.

"There are many groups and corporations that will step up to the plate and try to help," said Elizabeth Goldstein, executive director of the California State Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting state parks. "But it would be a mistake to think that these efforts will be sufficient to replace the public funds being extracted." [...]

The crisis also triggered debate over the kinds of recognition corporate sponsors could expect in return for helping to subsidize a state park.

"We're reaching out to all possible partners -- cities, counties, nonprofits, banks, corporations, newspapers, individuals -- who would be interested in helping us," said Roy Stearns, spokesman for the state parks department. "Maybe we can find agreements that don't alter, commercialize or degrade our state park system.

"For example, if Budweiser came forward with money for Malibu Beach State Park, we wouldn't change the name to Budweiser Beach," he said. "But why not put up a banner saying, 'This park is kept open by Budweiser' for as long as they continue helping us?

If this isn't a hop, skip and a jump to unique licensing agreements to sell products on site, I don't know what is.

The article makes pretty clear that, while state parks and beaches may not be financially self-sustaining, they generate major amounts of economic activity. In fact, over the past year, the system "is currently packed with the highest visitation rates ever recorded," according to the parks director. This leads to residual spending in the areas around parks and beaches, increased tourism, etc. The natural beauty of California is a major attraction throughout the world.

Thanks to Governor Hoover we must lock them up or turn to the private sector to sustain them.

All part of his plan.

...I want to also address George Skelton's complaint that progressives somehow made their bed by voting down the May 19 ballot measures and now they must lie in it. I'll ignore for the moment this major error in the piece, the assertion that "state revenue has been plummeting, down 13% in the last two years even with February's tax increases." (um, they didn't take effect until April, not over the "last two years") And I won't comment on his barely suppressed glee over eliminating cost-of-living adjustments for poor people on welfare.

Schwarzenegger and the Legislature were widely accused of scare tactics -- crying wolf -- when they warned about the consequences of voters rejecting the May ballot measures. The wolf just broke down the door.

So let's do Skelton's counterfactual. Let's envision a world where the ballot measures that impacted the bottom line passed.

Those were worth a little less than $6 billion.

The deficit was $26 billion.

$1 billion of those $6 billion were cuts to different programs. If a world where cuts to certain programs means we wouldn't feel cuts to other programs is a world you populate and exalt, I think you're alone.

The other $5 billion was dubious borrowing. The most contentious item in the budget, and the most likely to have been dropped in your counterfactual... was $5 billion in dubious borrowing, only to local governments.

So the consequences of voting down very unwise ballot measures was... what, exactly? Different cuts to vital services and different dubious borrowing?

(And of course, we'd have a permanent spending cap, rather than the political spending cap we have now thanks to the conservative veto.)

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