As California Goes ...

by digby

The good news is that there will never be any new taxes for wealthy people because they create jobs, so that's good:

Nearly every state park in the Bay Area — from the towering redwoods at Big Basin to Angel Island, Mount Tamalpais to Mount Diablo and every state beach from Año Nuevo in San Mateo County to Big Sur — would close as part of budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In all, 220 of California's 279 state parks, about 80 percent, would be padlocked starting as soon as Labor Day, under details of a historic closing plan released Thursday night by the state parks department.

"We've never been in as serious a predicament as we are facing right now. It is potentially devastating," said state parks spokesman Roy Stearns.


But Friday, Democratic leaders said the budget hole is so great they expect some parks will close. The main reason: Sales tax, income tax and other revenues flowing into Sacramento have collapsed during the economic downturn and Republican leaders have said they will not support any increase in taxes or fees.

And this will lead to an ever more downward spiral:

Goldstein noted that a study by the University of California-Berkeley found that for every $1 in public money spent on state parks, $2.35 is returned to the state in taxes from tourism and other revenue they generate.

It will be the environment and the animals that will suffer, which is just the first step.

When his park's famous elephant seals began arriving in the 1970s, Strachan said, there were no regular rangers. After a story about the seals ran in Sunset magazine, visitors began descending on the area without supervision.

"It was a nightmare. People were getting bitten and chased. Pups were getting harassed," Strachan said.

If the parks close, a small crew of rangers would patrol wide areas, checking in on closed parks. People still would park on highways and walk to beaches. But rangers, park managers and legislators are worried that with almost no supervision across 1.5 million acres of parklands, it is almost certain there will be vandalism, animals poached and a high risk of wildfires from trespassers.

Old people and children are next on the chopping block.