Arizona State Parks Face Massive Cuts in 2010
Proposed budget adjustments that are on the table at the special session of the Arizona State Legislature will cut more than $9 million of state parks funds, leaving the agency with only about $10 million in its 2010 budget, according to a bulletin from the Arizona State Parks Foundation.
That’s considerably less than the agency’s normal funding and not enough to continue park operations beyond this fiscal year.
Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature are seeking $205 million in cuts to mitigate a deficit estimated to be $1.5 billion. The proposed cuts to state parks would provide just 4% of their goal, while shutting down the parks’ annual contribution to the Arizona economy of more than $266 million.
This result also negates 10 months of work by the Governor’s Task Force on Sustainable State Parks, which recommended in October that state parks be funded with a fee on Arizona license plate renewals in exchange for free entry to the parks.
The cuts will force major reductions in parks staff and closure of more than half of the state’s 30 parks this fiscal year. The resulting loss of park revenue is projected to leave the parks system with no money to start the next fiscal year, July 1, 2010. The next step will be to shut down the entire system and dispose of parks properties, returning most of them to their original owners.
The full Senate must consider this bill, then it moves to the House (HB2001).