Budget deadlock blamed for toilet paper shortage

September 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The state budget crisis has led to an unexpected problem for visitors to state parks and if you want to use the bathroom, you may have to bring your own toilet paper.

Whether you enjoy the beaches, the campgrounds or historical sites in California, you might have to "hold it" or bring your own toilet paper when nature calls.

The state budget is so late, a state credit card used to buy supplies is being canceled by the bank due to a lack of payment. That means the Parks Department can no longer buy toilet paper for its rural sites.

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

Urban state parks have the advantage of going to state warehouses for their supplies. The Parks Department can't say which rural sites are affected, but estimates it's roughly one-third of the nearly 300 parks.

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

Budget negotiations on how to close the $19 billion deficit have been painstakingly slow; meetings have been taking place in Los Angeles this week because Schwarzenegger has been too sick to travel to the Capitol.

The credit card won't be good until there's a budget and back payments are made. Some park visitors thought the toilet paper problem was funny.

"I'll have to carry a larger handbag and make sure we take our own," state park visitor Donna Martin said.

Others didn't realize what a late budget meant.

"Just how dire the situation is and how real it is too. It's gotten to a point where they literally can't buy toilet paper. I mean, this is real," state park visitor Julia Hensel said.

Supporters of Proposition 21 seized the opportunity to push the November ballot initiative that eliminates state park funding from the general fund and replaces it with higher DMV fees to support the system.

"It takes it out of the budget process in Sacramento. We've seen what a mess this has become," Ziegler said.

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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