As a member of the State Parks Commission, I’m writing to thank you for recognizing the terrible financial position our agency has been put in. Your April 15 editorial was spot on, and I only want to share one detail not included in your editorial: the fact that we went from 90 percent general tax funding to only 8 percent in four years.
We were given a mandate to become self-supporting and handed the Discover Pass as a major alternative to historic general tax support. We were given little time to implement this new “pay-to-play” system and no money for marketing. The experts who estimated Discover Pass revenues were off the mark by 50 percent. We were thrown into this crisis through no fault of our own.
The 2013 Legislature and our new governor recognized that we were asked to do too much too soon, and they provided enough general tax funding to help us keep all parks open through this biennium, but certainly not at the staffing levels we’d need. Like you, I hope the governor’s task force will find a way to ensure our state parks are adequately funded on a sustainable basis.