On May 15 Gov. Jerry Brown released the May Revision to his 2012-2013 state budget proposal. The expected budget shortfall for the year has climbed to $15.7 billion. Numerous environmental programs and issues are affected.
The governor’s proposal does not change planned budget cuts to the State Department of Parks and Recreation, which will result in closure of up to 70 state parks in July (see previous articles on Candlestick Point State Recreation Area and Little Hoover Commission). The Sierra Club is disappointed that these closures remain in the budget. State parks play a role in education, recreation, and physical health for millions of California children and adults. They also support the state’s tourism industry and local and regional business. Closing parks will cost the state more than keeping them open, but the governor and his Department of Finance refuse to budge.
State parks would have been a smart investment for the funds the governor is proposing to lend to the General Fund from the Motor Vehicle Account. Every dollar invested in state parks more than doubles its value to the state’s economy.
The Department of Toxic Substance Control will lose funding for nearly 84 staff. Another 52 positions will be shifted from other programs within the department to focus on consumer-products work driven by the evolving Green Chemistry effort.
Californians shouldn’t have to wonder how much poison they are exposed to each day. The Department of Toxic Substance Control is one entity that helps identify and reduce Californians’ exposure to toxics. We are alarmed by the number of positions the governor is proposing to cut from a department that in recent years hasn’t been able to keep up with demand for its services.
New funding will be developed to support Timber Harvest Plans. Logging companies must produce these plans to ensure that they minimize the environmental impacts of their logging, and various state agencies must review and monitor them. Private forest lands provide vital services for society—habitat for wildlife, collection areas for snowpack and water, soil and hillside stabilization. Californians rely upon THPs to make sure that these services aren’t wiped out by reckless logging. The agencies that review and enforce the THPs have been understaffed and need new funding. We look forward to seeing details about the governor’s proposal.