On Monday (June 15), the CA budget conference committee decided NOT to redirect OHV money to offset State Park costs. Instead, it voted to approve the concept of a Vehicle License Fee surcharge to support State Parks and to use the revenues from that surcharge to replace their general fund support. There were few details discussed other than that the Vehicle Parks Pass would cost $15 annually as part of a vehicle’s registration fees and would allow free day-use parking to anyone with a California license plate on their vehicle.
What this means is: The committee proposed a $15 increase to the Motor Vehicle Account (MVA), which, unlike the Vehicle License fee - a personal property tax - is an actual fee.
So, when is a "fee" a "tax"? Even though is smells like a tax, according to political jargon, it is not.
This is not final and sure to draw a lot of attention in the coming days as details leak out.
It appears that the Legislature hopes to put the amended budget up for a vote sometime next week. If it passes both houses, it will go to the Governor for signature. If it fails to pass, legislative leaders will probably enter into direct negotiations with the Governor to resolve outstanding issues.
As always, there are many details yet to be clarified. No indication was made that any State Park would be treated differently than any other. We all drive street legal vehicles through the gates of the SVRAs and so it would be logical that the SVRAs would benefit from free day use the same as all the other State Parks. As the details are written out, it will be important to remain engaged to ensure that SVRAs and the OHV Trust Fund are treated equally and receive their fair share of this program.
Thank you very much to those of you who, with very short notice, took the time to write, email, phone and fax members of the legislature asking them not to redirect the OHV Trust Fund revenue. The outcome today could not have been possible without all of you. While we continue to face many challenges, victories such as we accomplished today can be achieved when the OHV community pulls together for a common cause. Please take a moment to look around and be proud of what was accomplished.