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Cash-poor California may have to sell off Will Rogers State Historic Park

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Leave it to California to take out their budget woes on an Oklahoman.

The state of California is facing its biggest budget crisis ever, a government shortfall of more than $24 billion. Legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have been wrangling all year to come up with a solution, including higher taxes and steep agency cuts.

A state question was even put up to a vote of the people that would have diverted billions of dollars from the state lottery, early childhood and mental health funds to shore up the budget hole. But voters said no way.

With few options left, California is faced with drastic reductions in state services. On the chopping block are several state parks, including the Will Rogers State Historic Park, home to Rogers' ranch, where he resided during his days as a California resident.

According a story in the Claremore Daily Progress, the park and ranch comprise one of more than 200 state parks that may be under the budget knife.

The 187-acre ranch in Pacific Palisades, near Santa Monica Bay, consisted of a 31-room ranch house, corrals, a stable, roping arena, riding ring, golf course, hiking trails and a polo field while Rogers and his family lived there.

The ranch became a state park after Rogers' wife, Betty, died in 1944. Rogers was killed in a plane crash in 1935.

"It would truly be tragic, a historic loss, but the fact that it, and so many other California parks are being threatened with closure, it's merely a sign of the economic distress being felt across the country," said Steve Gragert, director of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, according to the paper.

"Rogers' most prolific years as a writer and actor were spent at that (California) ranch," he said.

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