Senator Mark Leno
Millions of dollars in funds that were underreported by the Department of Parks and Recreation would be used keep California’s state parks open to the public under a bill proposed by Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Chair Mark Leno.
The plan would also match private donations made for the purpose of keeping parks open and pay for long deferred park maintenance projects.
Leno, D-San Francisco, proposed legislation to appropriate the funds solely for the benefit of the state’s park system during the Committee’s informational hearings regarding how the department was able to underreport $20.4 million in the State Parks and Recreation Fund.
“While we clearly need to fix the serious problem that allowed more than $20 million to go virtually unnoticed, the silver lining today is that we have an opportunity to prevent the closure of parks and invest in long overdue repairs throughout the parks and recreation system,” said Leno.
“Our parks are important to all Californians, and our top priority is to ensure that people in every community continue to have access to these natural treasures for years to come,” he said.
The Senate proposal places a moratorium on full park closures for two years, gives the Parks and Recreation Commission more oversight authority and a role in reviewing deferred maintenance, provides a sustainable, long-term strategy for park funding, and appropriates the found money exclusively to keep parks open.
The Budget and Fiscal Review Committee also heard testimony regarding reporting discrepancies between the Department of Finance and the State Controller’s Office in the overall accounting of the state’s special funds.
The State Parks and Recreation Fund is one of the state’s more than 500 special funds with dedicated funding sources that support specific public programs. The Department of Finance recently conducted a review of those funds, finding $3.9 billion in discrepancies.