Re "$10 for parks?” editorial, July 3
The Times’ editorial regarding Assemblyman John Laird’s (D-Santa Cruz) state parks access pass highlights the need for stable funding for state parks but dismisses a $10 vehicle surcharge to provide this stability. The rationale? That a comprehensive budget fix is better. But we can’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.
State parks are a public good. We all benefit from the clean air and water, recreational opportunities and education that they provide. This proposal represents a common-sense solution to a serious problem.
The writer is legislative and policy director of the California State Parks Foundation.
Great idea by Laird to tax drivers for park use whether they go to the parks or not. Has he been too busy dreaming up tax schemes to notice gas prices?
Here’s a suggestion: Take a ride to Ahmanson Ranch park any morning. The parking lot sits empty while nearby neighborhood streets are lined with the cars of park users who are avoiding the (ridiculously low) parking fee. How about ensuring that park users pay a fair fee for their use of the park and leaving already overburdened motorists alone?
As a tax policy analyst, I take issue with some of your reasoning for opposing a $10 surcharge on vehicle registration fees to provide badly needed revenue for our state parks.
The benefit principle of taxation would certainly support the idea of a modest charge on all motorists in order to support a widely beneficial public good. You argue that some would underpay and others would overpay. That is not the point. Availability and access to a well-maintained system of parks is the benefit being purchased. If I don’t ever go inside a park, I still benefit from it. Arguing the issue of regressive versus progressive over a fee like this is similarly wrongheaded. Where’s the kitchen sink?
The point that is worthy of debate is where this fits in a broad range of necessary adjustments on the revenue side of the ledger in Sacramento. It is time for all of us to face up to the need to pay for the kind of state we want, the kind we used to have.