Monday, January 16, 2017

State Parks in Scott Walker's Wisconsin

Wall Street Journal:
Wisconsin’s cash-strapped state parks are considering selling naming rights or sponsorships at some facilities, raising concerns pristine natural landscapes may soon be dotted with corporate logos.
​Wisconsin’s is one of a number of state-park systems looking for new ways to pay for their operations as their lawmakers cut public funding....
In Wisconsin, lawmakers in 2015 eliminated all state tax support for the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees its state parks. That led to a $1.4 million deficit and forced the department to come up with new ways to earn revenue.
In December, it submitted a number of proposals to state lawmakers, including raising campsite fees. It also proposed what it called a “limited path” for “sponsorships and advertising.” Some think that could mean selling naming rights for parks or park facilities, a move critics say is something more akin to what sports stadiums would do to raise money....
This November, voters in Alabama overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that will block the state legislature from diverting funds from the state parks department. The legislature had redirected around $15 million from the department since 2010, leading to the closing of five Alabama state parks in 2015.
“We don’t get that money back, but we don’t have the threat of seeing our money taken from us in the future,” said Gregory M. Lein, the director of Alabama State Parks at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Despite that victory, Mr. Lein says budgets remain tight, and he is “open-minded” about working with private companies. One of the state parks that closed in 2015 has reopened under the control of a private company.
 Back in 1995, when I visited a couple of state parks in Wisconsin, they already had a $10 a day parking fee in the parks, along with camping fees and I believe entrance fees.  Good to know that in an effort to give Herb Kohl and the Menard assholes tax cuts, state legislators have decided to not spend any tax dollars in the parks.  Give Republicans another 20 years and they'll be selling the parks to rich folks.  By the way, that privatized state park in Alabama was located in the Black Belt.  I'd have never guessed.  That civil society was nice back when we had it. 

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