- Associated Press - Monday, March 20, 2017

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The California Assembly narrowly voted Monday to put a measure seeking $3 billion in bonds for parks on the 2018 ballot.

The bill, AB18, required a two-thirds majority and passed with no votes to spare. It now moves to the Senate, where it will also require two-thirds approval.

It would aim to improve access to parks and open spaces in disadvantaged communities, said Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, the bill’s author.

“This park bond, throughout the process, has focused on making sure that we prioritize the areas that prior park bond investments forgot,” the Coachella Democrat said. “What we’re trying to accomplish here is to continue to highlight the beautiful parks, outdoors recreational opportunities that CA has to offer.”

The measure would authorize $3.1 billion in bonds for state and local parks and recreational areas if approved by voters. A similar bill by Garcia died in the Senate at the end of the previous legislative session.

Several Republicans spoke in opposition to the bill and said park improvements should be paid for upfront using general fund money. The bond would cost the state $6 billion over 30 years, which Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Hesperia, characterized as fiscally irresponsible.

“That is money that our children and our children’s children are obligated to pay back,” he said. “I cannot support increasing our state’s debt by that amount.”

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