November 2010 Election, California, Proposition 21

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Vote Recommendation: No

See: November 2010 Election, California

This is a difficult issue. On the one hand, we have underfunded parks that really do need state resources. On the other hand, we have an extra $18 tax (effectively) which is really unnecessary.

I can see the point that the California government is unlikely to use its funds responsibly, and that the parks are going to suffer, so we should set up a separate isolated fund and protect it from the legislature. However, I can also see the point that setting up this separate fund the way that it is being done here, effectively gives the legislature more money to waste and encourages that waste.

Really, I think that a better solution would have been to carve out a portion of an existing tax, and add the protections that are being provided here. I would think that the amount should be somewhere around the existing funding rate (or perhaps a little higher) and that a tax should only be added for the sake of adding extra funds to the trust fund. That way, all of the tax would go to the parks rather than just half going to park funding increases, and the rest effectively going to defer the costs of our government's wasteful spending.

In the end, I have to conclude that we're trying to do the right thing in the wrong way. We should draw a hard line, stop giving the government more money to waste, and insist they use the money we've given them to take care of the government's actual responsibilities.


Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs and Grants Free Admission to All State Parks to Surcharged Vehicles.

Initiative Statute

Joseph L. Caves (916) 558-1516

Establishes an $18 annual state vehicle license surcharge and grants free admission to all state parks to surcharged vehicles. Requires deposit of surcharge revenue in a new trust fund. Requires that trust funds be used solely to operate, maintain and repair the state park system, and to protect wildlife and natural resources. Exempts commercial vehicles, trailers and trailer coaches from the surcharge. Requires annual independent audit and review by citizen's oversight committee. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state revenues of about $500 million annually from the imposition of a surcharge on the VLF to be used mainly to fund state parks and wildlife conservation programs. Potential state savings of up to approximately $200 million annually to the extent that the VLF surcharge revenues were used to reduce support from the General Fund and other special funds for parks and wildlife conservation programs. Reduction of about $50 million annually in state and local revenues from state park day-use fees. These revenue losses could potentially be offset by increases in other types of state park user fees and revenues.

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