Budget saves parks but cuts public services


Just in time for the Fourth of July holiday, visitors can enjoy the Stanford Mansion, maybe even drop by the Governor's Mansion. They're part of the list of 70 state parks that were slated to close July 1 because of budget cuts. Now only one, Providence Mountains in remote San Bernardino County, remains doomed.

Despite a $31-million line-item veto by Gov. Jerry Brown, most will stay open at least a few more weeks thanks to private donations.

"This is kind of a reprieve," California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman said. "And so it's still incumbent on all of us to figure out good long-term solutions to save these treasures."

But no one is coming to the rescue of the state's poor children and college students. The governor reduced the number of subsidized childcare slots for mothers in the welfare-to-work program, known as CalWorks, by 14,000. And Cal Grants will be 5 percent smaller, mostly for those who attend private schools, but the cut also applies to some students in public colleges.

The new budget is a triple-whammy for CalWorks recipient Sheaba Jackson. The state's new spending plan already cuts welfare from four years to two. The line-item vetoes now put her childcare at risk and as soon as her grades were up, she wanted to apply for a Cal Grant.

"What we need is our resources and it's being taken from us. It's very difficult," Jackson said. "If you're cutting us off at the knees, how can we walk?"

In all, Brown slashed another $200 million from the budget using his line-item veto authority. He's putting that money in reserves to boost it to nearly $1 billion for emergencies.

But the $92 million for CalFire, for instance, may not be enough.

"If we have a bad fire season -- and we hope that we don't -- if the cost of fighting those fires outstrips that $92 million in the budget, we go to the reserve to cover the additional costs," California Department of Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer said.

Democratic leaders feel the money could be better used to prevent deep cuts to social programs, instead of letting it sit in a bank account.

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