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Re: Welcome to California...!

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Welcome to California...!
February 10, 2009 09:39PM
You would think I'd know how to make a link active after visiting this forum so many times. But not yet. The article below does make one wonder how a $42 billion deficit is going to affect state parks and even access to Yosemite and other national parks inside California. Conservative or liberal, a $42 billion deficit makes California a basket case. The only person that might be laughing is former governor Gray Davis.


California's Pain Is Only Beginning
Cuts to Parks, Schools and Roads Hint at What's to Come Under Any Budget


BIG SUR, Calif. -- As Sacramento squabbles over the state's $42 billion deficit, Californians are getting a bitter taste of what's to come after the steep budget cuts that are inevitable when legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger finally hammer out a deal.

Some world-famous parks like Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park may not open this year. After-school programs in low-income areas are being scuttled, putting high-risk teens on the street just as police forces are being cut. Schools are closing classrooms, and some highway projects have ground to a halt. The state may not be able to monitor some sex offenders as required under law.

A budget deal may restore some of the missing funds. But everyone knows that not all monies will flow again after a deal, and Californians increasingly fear they are seeing a hint of their future.

A state parks superintendent inspects the site of an unfinished bridge at California's Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The world-renowned park on the Central California coast may not open this summer because funds to complete the new bridge to a large campground have been frozen.
"Before it gets better, it's going to get a lot worse," said Joseph Valentine, director of Contra Costa County's Department of Employment and Human Services. The department, which administers social services such as food stamps, has cut 12%, or $25 million, of its budget. It has managers answering reception-desk phones, and Mr. Valentine expects another round of cuts.

The empty coffers have hit some California icons. Pfeiffer Big Sur may not reopen this summer because work on a new bridge to the campground was halted, part of a $6 million renovation project that state officials have ordered frozen along with hundreds of millions of dollars in other state infrastructure projects. Dan and Vickie Coughlin of Torrance, Calif., face not camping in the park with their daughters, ages 10 and 13, for the first time since they were born. When they were advised they couldn't book reservations, "it just broke my heart, and my kids almost cried," said Ms. Coughlin.

Other states face budget cuts too, but California's budget mess stands out for its size. Its deficit is projected at $42 billion by mid-2010. Since Gov. Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency 14 weeks ago, he and lawmakers have been deadlocked over how to close the gap. Democrats want tax increases and moderate spending cuts; Republicans seek deep cuts and no tax increases; the governor wants a combination.

The governor's office warned Tuesday that if no budget deal is reached by Friday, the state would send layoff warnings to 20,000 workers. Gov. Schwarzenegger also said he intends to cut 10,000 jobs through layoffs and attrition to save $750 million over 17 months.

Meanwhile, the state is raising money in unprecedented ways. The treasurer's office said Tuesday that it is close to selling $200 million in general-obligation bonds to the Bay Area Toll Authority, a municipal agency, to fund public-works projects around the San Francisco Bay area.

While Sacramento talks, money is drying up in places like Contra Costa County, where 40,000 families have applied for 350 available slots for Section 8 vouchers -- a federal subsidy that allows low-income families to rent in the private market. "The level of desperation is just heartbreaking," said Joseph Villareal, executive director of the Contra Costa Housing Authority.

Pfeiffer Big Sur is so popular that campsites like this one, in a grove of towering redwoods, are almost always booked as far as seven months in advance.
Marin County's Novato Unified School District alarmed parents with a proposal to cut its entire sports program to help save $6 million over two years, which would affect about 75% of Novato's 8,600 students. "When the community heard about the possible cut, they freaked out," said Superintendent Jan La Torre-Derby, who adds that "it's not set in stone yet."

The California State University system -- the nation's largest -- faces new cuts after already seeing reduced class offerings, increased classroom sizes and delays in students being able to graduate after a series of budget cuts in recent years.

Things could get worse as more budget cuts loom. The state may not be able to monitor sex offenders as required under a 2006 law that calls for sex offenders to be on GPS monitoring for life and to live more than 2,000 feet from schools and parks. In January, corrections officials said they were monitoring all 6,622 paroled sex offenders with GPS devices, after Gov. Schwarzenegger set aside $106 million in last year's budget for the program. But because the law contained no revenue-raising mechanism, authorities say it is unclear whether they will have funds to continue monitoring.

—Stu Woo contributed to this article.
Write to Jim Carlton at jim.carlton@wsj.com and Bobby White at bobby.white@wsj.com
avatar Re: Welcome to California...!
February 10, 2009 11:04PM

wbmyosemite:>>You would think I'd know how to make a link active after visiting this forum so many times. But not yet<<

I still can't post a picture nor will I ever figure out the link mystery. Oh, well, I think that cut/paste makes reading the article convenient.

This information is mind boggling; I used to camp all along the coast every summer when I lived in the Bay Area.

A tiny part of me wonders what sort of reverse impact keeping the hordes out (including me) will have on some of these pristine areas (not that I am advocating shutting the parks down, by any means).

Re: Welcome to California...!
February 11, 2009 08:43AM
To post a link that works, one way is to enclose it inside the "less than" and "greater than" symbols. (uppercase above the comma and period, and to the right of the M on US keyboards. No spaces between the symbols and the link.


For photos, you put a direct link to the photo where you have it online; the photo link should end in .jpg if you want it to show in your message. Use the word img before the link, enclosed in its own set of brackets on both ends of the img (to the right of the 'P' key, lowercase). At the end of the link, after the .jpg, put /img enclosed in its own set of brackets. Don't use spaces. If you're not used to posting photos on the web, be sure to figure out how to downsize them for web use first; if you post a photo right from a digital camera, or one that's for printing, it will be gigantic and make the messages hard to read and to navigate.

Post Edited (02-11-09 08:45)

Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
Re: Welcome to California...!
February 11, 2009 12:07PM
Thanks Gary. I'll give your linking instructions a try next time.

Bee, if the CA courts release one-third of all prison inmates as was mentioned earlier in the week, maybe we should hope the firearms' ban in Yosemite sticks.

I've complained about dogs on the trails to Half Dome and other sites before. Now I may need to drag along a German shepard, or two, just to keep the paroled ex-convicts away!

The next few years should be very interesting.

avatar Re: Welcome to California...!
February 11, 2009 04:37PM
WBMYosemite:>>Bee, if the CA courts release one-third of all prison inmates as was mentioned earlier in the week, maybe we should hope the firearms' ban in Yosemite sticks<<

I was thinking that since they are closing the park(s) anyway, and theres no room in the prisons, perhaps they will set up camp-on-site chain gangs and get the work finished at the same time.

My dad used to talk about in the 60's, then gov Regan opened up all the asylums and let out the patients, creating a homeless nightmare that still goes on today. I hope that this time is not going to be any worse!

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