Could a $15 fee added to auto registrations save California’s state parks? The California Legislature’s Budget Conference Committee thought so, voting yesterday to remove state general fund dollars from state parks and replace them with the proposed fee. This post at says the committee voted on party lines: all the Democrats favored, all the Republicans opposed. I can’t help thinking: Do the Republicans really, truly, honestly think we should just padlock all our state parks and let them either a) rot; or b) fill up with gun-toting pot farmers? And lose the millions in revenue they generate for the parks’ neighbors? This is the party of commerce?

California gets back every dollar it spends on state parks several times over — and this fee could free the parks from the funding roller coaster the rest of the state is on. I know it’s infuriating to even think of taking state parks out of the general fund: the parks are our state’s capital. They need to be preserved and invested in for future generations, not made a pawn in Sacramento’s power games. Still, the state’s in a deep hole and the fee could keep the parks open till better times return and parks funding can be restored. I’m from the “80 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing” school, so I like the idea.

You can stop in at the California Parks Foundation’s page and join an e-mail campaign in support of the fee.


Required reading: The Mercury News guide to the state budget crisis.