Southern California environment news and trends

Three small things about three small pieces of one complicated state budget

The biggest lightning rod on my beat in the new proposed budget 2: electric boogaloo is the idea to take back $140 million in General Fund dough from State Parks and replace it with revenues from drilling on Tranquillon Ridge.

From the 54-page brief summary:

Fund State Parks from Tranquillon Ridge Oil Revenues — A reduction of $140 million in General Fund and replacement with revenue generated from the Tranquillon Ridge oil lease. It is estimated that the Tranquillon Ridge oil lease will generate $1.8 billion in advanced royalties over the next 14 years. This revenue will be used to fund state parks. The Governor’s Budget assumes that the State Lands Commission will approve the Tranquillon Ridge proposal. If not approved by the Commission, legislation will be necessary.

The little things add up, though. Here are a few I noticed.

1. Fish and Game is allocating $2 million for additional warden positions. It's also cutting hunting and fishing support by $5 million. Somewhat sensibly, I see they're not hiking any more licensing fees. Sport fishermen, recreational anglers and possibly my dad might have been, uh, rageful about a license hike or a fee-on-the-license-hike: California's already got the highest in the country.

2. The California Science Center could lose $12 million from the General Fund, to be replaced by a fee charged on admission. I'm confused by that: the fee for permanent exhibitions is already zero. What's the fee on zero? I guess it could be a fee on parking or the IMAX films, which are pretty good bargains, but still presently $8.25 per adult.

3. This maybe isn't as small: in the Forestry and Fire Protection department, the emergency response initiative continues. So does the idea of a 4.8% fee on residential and commercial insurance everywhere in the state to pay for wildland fire fighting and emergency response. I wonder how that will work; I wonder how that will go over. The idea of a 2.8% fee didn't get very far last year.

Plenty more where these came from - look to Frank Stoltze and Julie Small for more this afternoon, through the weekend, and next week.

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