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CA – Assembly approves $3.1-billion park bond measure for November ballot – LA Times

Assembly approves $3.1-billion park bond measure for November ballot

A view of a blanket of clouds from Mt. Tamalpais State Park in Northern California. A report has found that the state parks department lacks a system to track spending at individual parks. (California State Parks)
A view of a blanket of clouds from Mt. Tamalpais State Park in Northern California. A report has found that the state parks department lacks a system to track spending at individual parks. (California State Parks) 

The Assembly on Thursday gave initial approval to putting a $3.1-billion bond measure on the November ballot for parks, water and climate change action.

The proposal, which next goes to the state Senate for consideration, addresses concerns that California’s parks have not been properly maintained.

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) noted that it has been 14 years since the state approved substantial new funding for park maintenance and improvements.

“We know that state parks have a deferred maintenance  backlog  of over $1 billion,” Garcia told his colleagues.

The measure was approved on a 55-14 bipartisan vote. Assemblywoman Catherine Baker (R-San Ramon) said operators of local parks in her district would welcome the ability to compete for matching funds.

However, the measure was opposed by Brian Jones (R-Santee), who said the state could fund the parks improvements from the current budget without borrowing and there are other bonds available for water and land conservation.

“We don’t have to go into additional debt for those programs,” Jones told his colleagues. “The money is there.”

At the last minute, Garcia amended the bill to increase the bond from $2.95 billion to $3.12 billion and to increase the amount going to disadvantaged communities from 10% to 20%.

As he worked to win support, Garcia also agreed to amend his bill to earmark tens of millions of dollars to specific park programs including those in San Diego, Ventura County, Central Valley and the High Desert/Coachella area.

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