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State credit card cut off due to budget

September 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Because of the unprecedented delay in passing a state budget, a bank has canceled a state credit card.This could affect the ability of departments throughout the state to buy much needed supplies, like toilet paper for state park restrooms.

"This is outrageous," said Jay Ziegler with the Nature Conservancy. "Today it's toilet paper, tomorrow trail closures, restroom closures and state beaches. People don't know what to expect."

Urban state parks have the advantage of going to state warehouses for their supplies. The California Parks Department can't yet say which rural site will be affected, but it estimates it could be a third of the nearly 300 parks.

"It isn't just toilet paper, it's bulk fuel for cars and trucks, it's auto parts for fixing cars and trucks, other equipment, lawn equipment, it's housekeeping supplies," said Roy Stearns with California State parks.

Budget negotiations to close the $19 billion deficit have exceeded previous records for days past the deadline. Meetings have been taking place in Los Angeles this week because Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been too sick to travel to the Capitol.

State officials announced that a deal had been struck late Thursday but the credit card cannot be restored until a budget is in place and all back payments have been made.

The direness of the situation was brought home to visitors at state parks Thursday.

"It's gotten to a point where they literally can't buy toilet paper. I mean, this is real," said Julia Hensel, a state park visitor.

Supporters of Proposition 21 seized the opportunity to push the ballot initiative, which would take funding for state parks out of the state general fund and replace it with higher DMV fees.

State parks are also letting their water bills lapse. They're working with water companies, but if the water is shut off, they'll have to close down parks for health and safety reasons.

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