Thursday, December 17, 2009

Special Session Bill will affect Arizona State Parks

House Bill 2001 proposes reductions and sweeps of $9.2 million from conservation funds such as the State Parks gate fees, donations, State Lake Improvement Fund and Heritage Funds. The consequence of the sweeps will be the closure of State Parks causing an additional $266 million revenue loss to these rural communities by reducing leisure business generated by the 2.3 million park visitors.

"These sweeps will be catastrophic to the agency and will eliminate any hope of us operating the system or contributing to the economies of these rural communities," said Reese Woodling, the Arizona State Parks Board Chairman. "If this bill passes we would need to reduce staff by approximately 75 of our remaining 218 employees and that step would force park closures. Also, these cuts are based on the Parks being open and earning over $8 million from gate fees which will not happen with Parks closed."

House Bill 2001 is seeking $205 million in state government cuts to begin to address a deficit currently estimated at $1.5 billion. The proposed cuts to State Parks would equate to almost 5% of their solution, while State Parks currently receives less than 1/10 of 1% of the overall state budget. Additionally, State Parks receives NO money from the state General Fund, however the impact of the park system on the state's economy is more than $266 million.
Full Story...
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