Friday, May 22, 2009

California’s Budget & the Parkway

As the budget crisis continues, one option being discussed at the state level is stopping all general fund support for parks (see highlight below), as reported in the Bee today, and unfortunately, this is a reality that might be played out in many other jurisdictions, including our county.

Parks and recreation just do not have the place in the queue—and rightly so—that public safety does; which is why many jurisdictions are forming partnerships with other government entities through a Joint Power Authority (JPA), and/or contracting with nonprofits to manage and develop funding for their prestige parks.

The solution we have proposed for stabilizing funding for the American River Parkway is to establish a JPA of local government entities to govern the Parkway and creating a nonprofit American River Parkway conservancy to provide management and a supplemental fund raising capability through philanthropy, which you can read more about on our website’s news page in our press release from January 20, 2009.

This is the model being used by the Central Park Conservancy to manage Central Park in New York—and the Conservancy raise’s 85% of funding needed by Central Park—and the Sacramento Zoological Society to manage the Sacramento Zoo, which they have wholly done since 1997 under contract with the City of Sacramento.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger abandoned plans to seek billions in emergency loans to help close a gaping budget hole Thursday, the same day that the Obama administration said it would not provide guarantees for such transactions.

“Additionally, the state legislative analyst estimated the state deficit would rise by $3 billion and proposed solutions that include a salary cut for state workers.

“The Republican governor said his decision to withdraw his proposal for $5.5 billion in short-term borrowing stemmed partly from the federal government's decision and partly from Tuesday's vote.

“The development marks more bad news for a state facing a huge shortfall, massive program cuts and an even more pressing problem, a cash-flow crunch that could leave it unable to pay all its bills by summer….

“Options included eliminating the Healthy Families program that provides medical, dental and vision care to needy children; eliminating the state's welfare-to-work program, CalWORKs; eliminating the Cal Grant program of college aid; eliminating general fund support for state parks; and trimming the number of inmates, rehabilitation programs and other costs of state prisons.”