Bond Freeze Update
As of June 1, slight progress had been made toward a gradual release of some
voter-approved bond money that was frozen by the State on December 18, 2008.
However, the paralysis of California’s restoration economy continued. In
light of the State’s worsening budget crisis, no sound predictions were
possible at press time as to when interrupted projects might resume or new
projects might be considered for approval.
The freeze on bond-fund spending was imposed after the Pooled Money
Investment Board, which consists of the director of finance, controller, and
treasurer, found that the State might run out of money by February 2009 if
the legislative stalemate continued. Without a budget, California would no
longer be able to cover obligations. So the Board decided to put an
immediate stop to all spending of voter-approved bond funds, a total of over
$3.8 billion committed to some 2,000 projects statewide. These were projects
to improve schools, transportation, and environmental infrastructure. All
work was stopped as of December 18.
Since then, the sale of some bonds in the spring made it possible for the
Coastal Conservancy to begin paying invoices for work completed before the
freeze was imposed. The release of funds from Proposition 12, 40, and 50
bonds to restart a limited number of existing projects was approved by the
State Treasurer’s Office on May 22. The Conservancy anticipates that funds
from the sales of Proposition 84 bonds will be available soon.
The release of these funds, which include federal economic stimulus funds,
have yet to be confirmed, but might allow some large wetland and
infrastructure projects to restart before summer’s end. It’s likely to be a
while before State bond funds become available for new projects.
State Parks Visitors Spend Billions
The economy gets a boost of about $4.32 billion a year from visitors to
California state parks, a survey conducted by Sacramento State University’s
Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration suggests. That’s the estimated
total spent by the 74.9 million people that State Parks estimates visit its
279 parks each year, for items and services ranging from groceries and other
supplies to lodging, food, gas, auto repairs, and equipment rentals.
The estimate is based on preliminary results of the survey, conducted by
faculty and students under supervision of Professor David Rolloff. From fall
2007 to February 2009, they interviewed 9,700 visitors at 27 parks around
the state and found that the average spent per person was $57.63 per visit:
$24.63 inside the park and in nearby communities, and $33 in communities
more than 25 miles from the park. People from out of state (11.95 percent of
those surveyed) spent an average $184.91 per person, or $1.66 billion per
"The numbers were kind of shocking to us, they were so huge," said Rolloff.
Complete results will be released later this year, he said, but the
information about spending "was so significant, we felt it was worth
releasing ahead of time." The survey was commissioned and funded by State