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The Umbrella Organization for the voice of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State.

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State Parks - Making Lemonade out of Budget Lemons‏

Budget details can be found at the following links:

State Parks Recommendation Summary

Proposed State Budget

The propsed budget is neither sufficient nor sustainable.  While it more than doubles general fund support, that amount is starting from such a small number that doubling it is hardly sufficient.  Even when combined with the $10 million litter tax diversion, and the correction of an error that would add another handful of millions of dollars, the amount proposed  is barely more than the Commission requested last biennium, after backing out pay raises and other general government  adjustments, and is only about half of what the Commission identified as necessary for a healthy state park system.  And even that inadequate level depends upon a further multimillion dollar drawdown of already imprudently low reserves.
 
And all of that depends upon an already-declared to be DOA $1.4 billion in tax increases- on top of an almost ten percent growth in revenues.  With none of it dedicated to state parks.
 
So those are some of the budget lemons.  Now we need budget lemonade.
 
Within the Governor’s tax package is the return of the sales tax to bottled water.  It is worth $44.7 million.  This has been discussed for some time, and this tax- dedicated to State Parks- was part of the Outdoor Recreation Task Force’s proposals.  If this reimposed tax, with its $44.7 million in proceeds, were dedicated to State Parks, we could:

 - Fund our state park system at a level a bit above the Governor’s level- hardly sufficient, but an end to the bleeding of the past six years and a base upon which to build – a stable, dedicated base.
 - Prevent a further draw-down of essential and prudent reserves.
 - End the litter tax diversion.  The diversion ends in two years and  creates a $10 million hole in the State Parks budget.  It creates a problem for the Legislature in enacting a four-year sustainable budget.  Ending the diversion early ends both of those problems.   

The Governor did not propose thus- but the “lemons” are there for lemonade- if legislators want to make it.  Not sufficient- but stable and sustainable- and a start toward a healthy system.
     
Jim

Citizens for Parks and Recreation
James L. King, Jr., Coordinator

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