Washington Struggles with State Park Funding
Washington state parks are looking for the “right mix” of funding for the parks system, including millions of state dollars, according to the Parks and Recreation Commission’s 2013-15 biennial budget proposal, Portland's The Oregonian reported.
The commission submitted the proposal last week to the Washington Office of Financial Management (OFM), where it will be reviewed by analysts along with more than 140 other agency budgets. The OFM will submit recommendations to the governor in October and November, and has declined to comment on agency proposals prior to the release of the governor’s budget.
The Washington Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire have asked parks to wean off of state support for operations. Parks and Recreation has seen a reeducation of $42 million in state funding since 2007. To offset the reductions and create self-sustaining parks, Washington legislators created the Discover Pass, a $10 day-use or $30 annual vehicle fee. Using revenue from the Discover Pass, the governor asked parks to become independent of state dollars by 2013.
However, revenue from the Discover Pass came in at less than half of the projected $32 million for its first year.
“The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission believes that 100 percent self-support is not sustainable or desirable if State Parks is to satisfy its mission and meet statutory responsibilities,” the commission stated in the proposal.
The parks commission is seeking $18 million in state general fund support for operations and a $48 million capital budget. This would provide an achievable but not ideal level of funding, according to the proposal.
OFM Director Marty Brown previously told The Oregonian that it is doubtful parks will receive its full request.
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