Proposition to Support State Parks

Funny thing happened when I read the SGV Tribune this morning. I saw an editorial written by a former student of mine, Alfredo Gonzalez. He wrote in support of Prop 21 on the November ballot, which would impose an $18 charge on top of your VLF (Vehicle License Fee) when you register your car. In exchange, you'd get free entry into most state parks that charge a per-vehicle entry fee.

It's a testament to our dysfunctional state budgetary system that policy entrepreneurs need to devise ways for dedicated taxes to support specific programs as a way to save them from the roller coaster of state general fund reliance. Just a few years ago, for example, you might also recall a special "millionaire tax," that was passed by state initiative. The proceeds from that tax is dedicated to mental health services. Also, a few years before that, The Nature Conservancy managed to pass a bond measure with funding dedicated to purchasing new park lands.

Ideally, these single-purpose, ballot box budgeting schemes wouldn't be necessary. The poor budget climate, however, almost mandates that any program that wants a reliable source of revenue will have to pass some sort of single-purpose tax for their own benefit. As a result, I'll almost certainly vote "yes" on the park fee. And you're almost certain to keep seeing more special taxes and fees presented on the ballot.