Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial in the Arizona Republic on the state’s severely underfunded park system following budget cuts.
Budget cutting left the state’s park system seriously wounded. Now, Arizona has to decide if it will leave the parks bleeding.
Will the next generation find the kind of robust park experience envisioned by Arizonans who supported state funding for parks with the 1990 Heritage Fund initiative and land acquisition through the 1998 Growing Smarter referendum?
That vision included public support to grow and enrich parks.
Or will your grandchildren find a few remnants of an anemic system?
That could be the consequence of years of budget cuts to the state park system, which saw its funding slashed from about $54.7 million in fiscal 2008 to $25.7 million in the past fiscal year.
A report from the state Auditor General’s Office says the Parks Board “was established as a publicly funded agency to provide a system of state parks for the public to enjoy. The loss of state funding … created a need for the state parks system to transition from being publicly funded to paying for its own operating expenditures. However, park receipts have not been sufficient to cover park operating expenditures.”
There was no public outcry to “transition” the parks from state support.
In fact, the public repeatedly has used the ballot box to express support for the parks and open spaces.
No wonder. The parks serve a variety of public interests.
To read the entire editorial click here.