From Lindsay Wildlife Experience Executive Director Cheryl McCormick, Ph.D:
A few have asked me about California Assembly Bill 2444, the California Parks, Water, Climate, and Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2016 (aka, Parks Bond). I’ve spoken with Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), the sponsor of the bill, and with Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) about what the bill really means for Lindsay and similar organizations.
What’s a bond, anyway?
Legislative initiatives are used to fund general obligation bonds filed by members of the General Assembly, in support of specific local or non-state-owned capital projects. Examples include, health facilities, historic preservation projects, museums, sports and recreational facilities. The Constitution allows the Legislature to place general obligation bonds on the ballot for specific purposes with a two-thirds vote of the assembly and senate. Voters also can place bonds on the ballot by initiative, as they have for parks, water projects, high-speed rail, etc. Either way, a majority is needed to pass.
What is the Parks Bond?
The Parks Bond was introduced on the floor of the house on Feb. 19. It has survived five rounds of amendments by various committees, the latest being the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on June 23.
The objective of the Parks Bond is to improve and to further create parks and recreation areas, as well as to create trail networks that provide access from neighborhoods to parks and recreational opportunities, helping ensure that all Californians have access to safe places to exercise and enjoy recreational activities.
How does the Parks Bond relate to Lindsay?
AB2444 places a $3.12 billion bond on the November 8 ballot. The measure allows the Legislature to appropriate funds in various ways1. One such allocation is $10 million to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for competitive grants for wildlife and animal rehabilitation facilities operated by nongovernmental entities like Lindsay.
1For a description of all proposed appropriations, click here
Are there conditions attached to this funding?
Yes, there are three. First, funding will be allocated to implement projects that address impacts to wildlife as a result of climate change (as opposed to impacts to wildlife as a result of habitat fragmentation, development, invasive species, etc.). Second, the bill gives a preference for grant projects that include the use of the California Conservation Corps, and a priority to projects that include water efficiencies, storm-water capture, or carbon sequestration features. Third, at least 20 percent of funds will allocated to projects in severely disadvantaged communities.
What are the next steps for Passage of the Parks Bond?
Along with nearly 200 other bond measures, the Parks Bond is slated for review and discussion in the Senate Appropriations Committee10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1. Assemblyman Garcia will present the highlights of the Parks Bond, which will be prioritized along with the other bills on the agenda, based on cost and need. My conversation with Assemblyman Garcia’s Legislative Aide, Mark Rossow, suggests that we can expect the Parks Bond to be identified as a high priority.
If passed, you and I would normally have an opportunity to vote on the Parks Bond on Nov. 8 during the general election. But due to the total cost of the bond, $2.3 billion, Assemblyman Garcia has been asked to postpone the bonds inclusion on this year’s general election ballot due to the cost of putting it on the ballot. Instead, it would be “cheaper” for taxpayers to wait until the 2018 election. I will keep our Lindsay community updated on the committee's decision.
When are the funds expected to become available?
This is difficult to determine but we’re unlikely to see any of it for years. Of the $135 billion in bonds that voters have authorized, nearly 20 percent have not yet been issued. The state hasn’t sold several billion in transportation, resources, and water bonds. The State Treasurer sells about $1 billion in new money bonds twice a year, so even if the Legislature enacts and the voters approve this measure, many of its purposes may have to wait several years for funding.
What can I do?
The last three days before a Committee meets is critical when determining public support – you can make sure that the Park Bonds pass! Here’s how:
We need bipartisan support from Senate Appropriations Committee members. The best thing that can be done is to call the two offices of Republican committee members. They may not support AB2444, but with public input, they may change their vote.
1) Call the offices of the two Republican Committee members:
Here’s what you can say (using my call as an example): Hello, my name is Cheryl McCormick, and I’m calling from Walnut Creek, Senate District 7. I’d like to express my support for AB2444, the Parks Bond. I realize that the Appropriations Committee meets on Monday to discuss the importance of the Park Bond, and I hope that Senator Nielsen will give Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia his full support in voting “Yes” on the measure. Thank you very much for passing along my message to Senator Nielsen.
2)Call your own District Office. Not surprisingly, politicians give priority to their own constituents. If they’re receiving feedback from the public, a senator can call a colleague and say, “Hey, I’m getting calls from my constituents about AB24444; how are you planning to vote?” Peer-to-peer influence is always effective.
Here’s what you can say (using my call as an example): I’d like to express my support for AB2444, the Parks Bond. I realize that the Appropriations Committee meets on Monday to discuss the importance of the Park Bond, and I hope that Senator Glazer will reach out to his two Republican colleagues on the Committee to encourage them to vote “Yes” on the measure.
Thank you very much for passing along my message to Senator Glazer.
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