Governor Wants $7.5 Million Annually From Boating Fund

By: Louis Gerlinger | Tuesday, March 31, 2009 12:00:00 AMLast updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 3:46:00 PMLOG NEWS SERVICE — Funds for recreational boating facility projects throughout the state could be cut in the years ahead if the California Legislature approves Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed annual transfer of $7.5 million from the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund to the Department of Water Resources (DWR), according to a report by the state’s nonpartisan legislative analyst.
Photo by: AP Photo/Nick UtDiversion Decision -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, pictured at a news conference where he declared a state fiscal emergency, continues to search for new ways to address California’s budgetary woes. His latest proposal would divert $7.5 million a year from the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund to the Department of Water Resources.
The Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund would have a structural deficit (with expenditures exceeding revenues on an annual basis) if the money was transferred from the fund, legislative analyst Mac Taylor said in a report to lawmakers March 15. In the 2009-10 budget year, the proposed $7.5 million appropriation to DWR to pay Davis-Dolwig costs would leave the fund with a balance of only $796,000, he said.

The fund, which comes mainly from boating-related fees and fuel tax revenue, is used by the Department of Boating & Waterways to provide loans and grants for the construction and maintenance of recreational boating facilities throughout the state.

“If the governor’s proposal were adopted, the Department of Boating & Waterways estimates that expenditures from the fund on existing programs would need to be reduced beginning in 2010-11 to avoid a fund deficit, unless revenues to the fund were increased,” Taylor said in the report.

The governor’s proposal also complicates another component of the governor’s budget plan: the loan of $29 million to the General Fund from the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund in the current year that was to be repaid by 2012-13, Taylor said.

“A commitment of $7.5 million annually from the fund to pay Davis-Dolwig costs would accelerate the date when this loan would have to be repaid from the General Fund,” Taylor said.

The recently enacted budget excludes the governor’s proposed funding ($38.5 million in bonds and special funds (including $7.5 million from the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund) and statutory reforms to the Davis-Dolwig Act -- the state’s 47-year-old law that states the intent of the Legislature to include fish and wildlife enhancements and recreation in the development of the statewide water system. The Legislature, however, may consider enacting the governor’s proposals in the coming months, Taylor said.

While recommending reforming the Davis-Dolwig act to clarify the state’s funding obligations, Taylor’s report recommended that the Legislature deny the governor’s request for Davis-Dolwig funding in the 2009-10 budget year and reject the proposed statutory change to provide an ongoing appropriation of $7.5 million from the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund to pay Davis-Dolwig costs.

The 20 page report, “Reforming Davis-Dolwig: Funding Recreation in the State Water Project,” is available on the Legislative Analyst’s Web site, at

This article first appeared in the March 2009 issue of The Log Newspaper. All or parts of the information contained in this article might be outdated.