California park visitors will pay more
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Steve Chiotakis: We’ve been telling you about California’s budget crisis for what seems like months now. Legislators in Sacramento have been slashing funds for everything from education to the DMV. The state’s parks department saw its budget cut by about 20 percent, one-fifth. And starting today, campers and visitors to parks in the Golden State will have to pay more. Here’s Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek Smith.
Stacey Vanek-Smith: Parking at a California campground will now cost $5 instead of $3. Beachside and mountain campsites will double to $21 a night. Steven Levy is the director of the Center for the continuing study of the California economy. He says these are big increases for the state, but…
Steven Levy: The legislature had to make a lot of really difficult choices in the budget. Raising fees I think is preferable to closing parks or cutting park services.
There are about 15,000 campsites in California, and the fee hikes will generate $5 million over three years, assuming they don’t keep people away. But California economist Jack Kyser doesn’t think that will happen.
Jack Kyser: For families, that’s probably not going to give them pause because right now you’re seeing a lot of people doing the staycation routine. There might be somebody where this might break the bank. I hope not.
Fee increases will only affect the parks that are still open. One hundred parks have been closed.
I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.
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