This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
State lawmakers hoping to pay for state parks with user fees – $10 day passes and a $30 annual Discover Passes – best go back to the drawing board. So far that plan isn’t raising enough money; the result is a major threat to the future of the state parks system.
The parking passes, which went on sale July 1, must raise an average of almost $2.7 million per month to pay for the parks and other state lands, about $64 million over two years.
That’s not happening. The sales are actually raising less than an average of $2.2 million per month. At that pace, only about $53 million will be raised over the next two years – a deficit of about $11 million.
Making up that difference from the general fund probably isn’t an option. Later this month, lawmakers will try to plug a budget hole of more than $2 billion.
And prospects aren’t great that the state revenue picture will improve significantly within the next year or two.
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