21 Aug 2014
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Huffman Backs Brown on State Parks Funding Plan

Assemblyman calls for state audit of parks budget and wants to make sure money goes to parks slated for closure.

Huffman Backs Brown on State Parks Funding Plan

Gov. Jerry Brown pledged Friday to make sure the $54 million of surplus funds discovered last month in the State Parks coffers will end up going to the intended purpose, making Assemblyman Jared Huffman happy.

Huffman, D-San Rafael, issued a statement in response to the Governor’s comments that the one-time funds are not enough to close the large funding gap that exists for state parks, but they help. 

 “While we have a lot more work to do to restore public trust and confidence," Huffman said, "ensuring that these park funds go to support parks at risk of closure, and to bolster the generosity of the donors and nonprofits who have stepped up in a big way, is an essential first step." 

Sonoma County's state parks have remained open, largely because of agreements with nonprofit groups and other government bodies. 

The 6th Assembly District representative said he's eager to hammer out all the details of the fund allotment and would like to explore a state match for major contributors who support the state parks targeted for state closure.

"We know the state also has some critical deferred maintenance needs in parks where public safety is an issue," he said. 

Huffman, who chairs the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and also serves as co-chair of the Legislative Environmental Caucus, said he was shocked at the discovery of extra funds, especially right after the state hacked $22 million from the parks budget. He has called for an independent state audit of state parks finances.

"(It comes) at a time when my colleagues and I, along with hundreds of California residents, have worked diligently over the past few years to scrape up enough funds and resources to help save 70 state parks from closure due to budget cuts," he said in July.

"While many of these state parks have since been saved, it is only temporary relief as we continue to secure a more sustainable funding stream.

"I find it shocking that $54 million in state funds were kept off the books over the past several years, when we’ve been told several times by State Parks officials during budget negotiations that the funding wasn’t there to keep all of our parks functioning."

Huffman said he wants the state to ensure that it has the accounting systems, transparency and checks and balances to ensure the issue wouldn't happen again.

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