SFR: State Park Blackmail

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by DimeBrite, May 16, 2009.

  1. Reading this ticked me off, because this is such a round about passive aggressive way to keep our state parks open. In essence we all need to check the $5 donation box when we register our cars or Gregoire may have to close or sell some of our state parks. Of course most of us (including me) will voluntarily pay this to prevent lost access to the state parks, but this is a spineless outrage. Our "leaders" in Washington who had plenty of conviction when it came to increasing state spending by over 30% over the past 4 years, now are leaving the jewels of our state in limbo so that we are forced to voluntarily tax ourselves. Whatever happened to leadership and prioritization, or just following the will of the voters? I'm posting this here since many of us fish the beaches of our various saltwater state parks, and their closure or sale would be bad news indeed.


    Gregoire approves $5 fee to pay for state parks

    By The Associated Press

    OLYMPIA — Yearly car registration fees will increase by $5, starting in September, under a measure signed into law Friday by Gov. Chris Gregoire, who hopes the new law will help keep struggling state parks open.

    Vehicle owners can opt out of paying the fee, and the measure requires the state Department of Licensing to ensure that the opt-out choice is prominently displayed and clearly visible on both paper and online renewals.

    Some state parks were facing possible closure in the recent legislative session as lawmakers grappled with a $9 billion budget deficit through mid-2011.

    Gregoire said the car-tab fee could help avoid park closures. But it doesn't guarantee that state parks won't be sold or closed.

    The governor said she thinks people now realize that the parks are at risk and will want to do something about it.

    "I'm really quite hopeful that now that they see the parks are vulnerable ... that people will not opt out," she said.

    The new law adds the $5 parks fee to all vehicle registrations. All the money collected must go to operation and maintenance of state parks, but the fee can't be charged if a car owner opts out of paying.

    State residents currently can make a $5 donation to support parks by checking an opt-in box on their vehicle license forms.
     
  2. Who cares, as long as the parks are paid for. Montana has moved to this kind of plan also with a $4 fee. At least I know that this $5 is going right to the parks and not to some "general fund".

    The will of the voters? Good luck getting the majority of voters to care about parks enough to agree to raise taxes to pay for them. We on this forum find it important, but the rest of the state may not share our interest. Hell, look how many people on this forum cry their eyes out every time the idea of paying $5 extra for to help pay for fish and game stuff comes up.

    You can bitch all you want about "oh, the crooks spent too much money". But that still leaves the parks (and schools and roads and so on) with a huge shortfall sitting here in 2009. Parks used to get $100 million, now they are budgeted to get $48 million. The milk has been spilled, you can't undo the past. So we can either say "screw this" and watch the parks fall apart, or just suck it up and deal with it.
     
  3. I don't understand the outrage. Our public expenditure and budgets were developed before the economy rolled off the table, and now there simply isn't the money to pay for previous mandates. I happily pay the $5 per vehicle (and I register 6 per year) because I value state parks, though I don't really use them much.

    Right now teachers are losing their jobs, public safety is compromised, and other essentials are not being funded adequately. Curbing spending on non-essentials is inevitable if unpalatable, so giving the state the price of a latte for programs I do believe in doesn't chap my lips. We're also working with the WDFW to post signs to protect SRC's feed the hatchery fish that end up in our lakes, and so forth. Being a cultural cretin, I won't be doing much for the arts, but I can live with "voluntary taxing" myself if the money goes where I want it to. Others can polish their own pet rocks.

    You reference public opinion, prioritization and the will of the voters. Do you really believe that given the choice between: quality of schools, response time for police, ambulance and fire service, repairing roads and bridges and a place for me to catch and release trout that 90% of the people in this state don't know exist, they'd pick parks?

    Despite their super human intellects, "leaders" like George Bush and Governor Gregoire didn't see this economic crisis coming, and now we all have to adapt. Desperate times call for bitter pills.
     
  4. How is this "blackmail"? It might bring more credibility to your post if you use your words in the proper context.

    Seems like a fair price. I'll pay it.
     
  5. It's good to know your wisdom is sometimes shared with those here on the forum, who are not lucky enough to hear it from a seat in your whaler w/ a good stogie. Well put Don.
     
  6. "Gregoire said the car-tab fee could help avoid park closures. But it doesn't guarantee that state parks won't be sold or closed.
    The governor said she thinks people now realize that the parks are at risk and will want to do something about it."

    The above quote from the article reads like blackmail in my mind. Pay the fee or I'll close/sell the parks you love. Not acceptable leadership in my opinion.
    I would add that if Gregiore had limited the growth of the state's budget to 4% per year the drastic cuts to Washington schools, universities, health care, parks, etc. etc. would not be nearly as severe as they are today (regardless of the current recession). I think they left out full park funding from the budget knowing that the majority of us could be extorted to pay for it. If this is acceptable behavior to the folks of Washington, they should expect more of the same in the future.
     
  7. I disagree with calling it "blackmail". I call it "reality" in a state that depends so largely on property taxes and sales taxes for revenue. This recession has hammered both, even more than personal incomes have declined. In response to state budget cuts, schools and universities are cutting positions and increasing tuition/fees. State agencies are laying off workers (over 20% at Wa DFW) and reorganizing internally to still perform some of their essential functions.

    I was a bit surprised that the choice was to fund parks via car tabs. When there were issues with state park funding several years ago, they instituted a user fee, $5 per day or via purchase of a season-long pass (might have been $20, I don't remember). Those who use the parks pay for them. But there were two downsides of the user fee. Some of the fees were diverted to pay the salaries of state employees to collect the fees. Second, the number of visitors to the state parks dropped (not necessarily a bad thing for someone who likes solitude).

    Philosophically, I'm not a big fan of negative checkoff systems, especially for unrelated items. What does car registration have to do with support for state parks? I would have preferred a user fee.

    Steve
     
  8. I just had to renew my tabs today. Its a check box to opt in ... don't want to pay, don't do anything. Me, I donated $10 because i want to keep our state park access. As has been stated, at least I know where this money is going, rather than the nebulous general fund.
     
  9. I found that odd as well, especially as my boat registration does NOT offer the option. I'm waiting for my camper registration, as RV's are the most closely related vehicles to the parks system. It will probably offer the right to contribute to Special Olympics.

    Good to hear from you Dan, shoulda called me before the rezzies went awol.
     
  10. Well let's call it a new tax then...which it clearly is. If the Legislatures and the Gov were more aware of "reality", they wouldn't continue to find new ways to spend even more money damn be the consequences later if the economy should turn south like it has now. You'd have to be totaly naive to believe the entire bloated State budget is essential. This State is totally incapable of living with in it's means. The last couple of years revenues have never been higher but the state continued to find new ways to spend even more. So now we get to pay more for parks, college tuition, car tabs....etc, etc. I can't believe how many continue to accept this mismanagement/incompetence, whatever you like to call it.

    And I don't know why the State and local governements charge fees for certain activities/services and not others...and this trend is on the rise, If everyone paid for each service they used than I might not quip at getting digged for the ones' I use. I have a hard time accepting paying for Parks access when those regularly riding the Ferry aren't paying anything close to what the actual cost should be and are highly subsidized by the non-ferry riding public, as just one example. Since I ride the Ferry at most once or twice a year, I don't see why the Ferry riders don't subsidize my access to the public parks.
     
  11. So by your calculations, $5 is what your share of the parks budget would be?
     
  12. As long as everyone in the State, regardless whether they use the parks or not, were ALSO being charged that 5 bucks than I would have a slightly less problem about paying it. But it's wrong either way/ Whenever the governement funding problems occur, the politicans almsot always threatened cuts to essential services (fire, police, jails,etc) first and then demand the public cough up more fees for others to continue their wasteful spending elsewhere. You can be as happy as you want paying the five bucks and even deem it worthwhile. I'm not changing my opinion on it.
     
  13. I agree, this is blackmail in a way (look up blackmail if you disagree). We already pay taxes for this and they blew it on something else, now they want more taxes. Our politicians are just proving that (yet again) they don't know how to properly spend the money allocated to them for services. Their solution is to just raise taxes, they spin some story about why higher taxes are needed and the vast majority buys it. Look at this thread for instance, most of you are jumping with joy at the opportunity to pay higher taxes for something, and yet you give no thought to why they need to raise them; what happened to the money they had for this? How long have the State Parks operated in the past without increased taxes? What about the money you pay to use the campgrounds, boat launches and so on? Where did it all go? Look at all the stupid spending they do and then you will have your answer as to why they need more money for the parks. I have a hunch that the majority will agree with them wasting your money on stupid stuff, like paying for a road crew to stand around 20' of pavement for 2 months and not do anything but flag cars and move cones:beathead: Oh well, I guess in this day and age every little league team gets a trophy, so we can't blame the politicians who screwed up, that would be blaming the vast majority of voters who put the idiot(s) there. No, in the end, after the Parks get closed you, who like to pay more in taxes; will blame those who asked the politicians to be responsible with the funds already allocated to them for the Parks and so on.

    That is my 2 cents plus tax:thumb:

    P.S. I don't think this thread will go anywhere productive:(
     
  14. Nice try. Show me the large mass of people who call the parks on the same level as fire/police/etc. The parks are, in most people's view, a completely non-essential service. Yeah, we're all hyped up about parks here on this forum. But a majority of the state is looking at this $5 and saying "good, let the parks people pay for the parks."

    The fact is that the parks used to get $100 million and now they get $48 million. That's not more money, it's less money. You can either pony up and encourage others to do the same, or you can watch your favorite parks turn into shitholes and close down. Complaining about congress won't get you or the parks anywhere at this point. The deal is done, show the idiots the door at the next election. Making your "teabagger" tax stand on this issue just gets you fewer parks to use.
     
  15. Josh, you are pretty mislead, WFF and other fishermen/women are not "the majority" of users. Alot of folks use the State Parks. Why did you spend so much time trying to think of a CNN/MSNBC "teabagger" joke insted of looking at why they needed to cut $52 million from the State Park funds? Could it be that you do not want to evaluate why the state is wasting your hard earned tax dollers? I'm not going to go deeper on this with you because it would be pointless. You enjoy an irrisponsible government that waste your tax dollers and I want a government with politicians that will do what they are supposed to do (hint hint, all positions in government are public service jobs not an opportunity to get rich and famious) and be to be responsible with MY money (taxes). And no, we cannot vote these idiots out of office because there is still a vast majority like you who tollorate incompitance.
     
  16. Holy shit Trent, it's like you've known me all my life! You got all that from a few sentences on a web forum? You're like a Carnac but with more boring insults.

    Take some time out from making incorrect assumptions about people and read what you are replying to. I never said anything about WFF members being a majority of something. I said that a majority of the state doesn't put parks at the same level as we on this forum do. You think that the majority of voters put parks up there with health/education services and I'm the "misled" one? Parks are important in washington state, no doubt. But they aren't that important when it comes to budget cutting time. Universities are having their budgets slashed and tuition raised, elementary schools are laying off teachers and staff, thousands of people are being kicked off Basic Health (which you've got to be low-income to be on anyway), you want to tell me that these people are standing around saying "by all means, cut my job but let's not cut any of that park budget." The fact that the parks are even getting a chance to pay for themselves via this sort of fee is a testament to how much people care about parks in washington. But given the economic slowdown, you'd still have a hard time finding a majority of people that wouldn't rather see some parks closed and that money go to their local school district.

    Yeah, politicians waste money. Congress screwed up and it sucks. As far as I'm concerned, 100 congressmen (red or blue) at the bottom of the ocean is "a good start" as the joke goes. But with a $4+ billion difference between what the state thought it had to spend and what it now appears the state will get, your baseless accusations and insults are about as useful as shouting at the rain to get it to stop. The horse is out of the barn. It doesn't matter what the politicians did in the past because in the present we don't have any money.

    Keep driving that train Trent. It just won't take you to nice parks or that missing $52 million.
     
  17. Hey, hey, heeeeyyyy. Easy on Josh. I think he makes a lot of sense. Trent, this state and many others are in financial disarray. If you think you can do a better job, why don't you run for office? Although, maybe you should learn how to spell before you do that.

    Dude, you can't use these words "tollorate incompitance" if you can't spell it right. It just cancels each other out if you do.

    By the way, I believe it is always better to give then to receive. I'll do my part whether it's for roads, parks, etc.

    Peace,

    Matt
     
  18. Everyone wants something for nothing. Pay the damn five bucks if you are a user of the parks or not. We're bitching about the use of some pristine open space that can be used for a variety of purposes, camping, hiking, bike trails, wildlife watching and beach access. Five bucks for that. Count me in. If you don't want to pay the fees our state sets up, don't by either not using them or moving somewhere that offers something for nothing. Good luck finding that though, most states will find some way to "blackmail" you.
     
  19. I didn't say or suggest the Parks were on the same level as police/fire, etc. in my first post and you clearly didn't understand what I said. Washington State has one of the higher tax burdens in the country and we continue to climb nigher on the ladder. The general fund should be able to cover the Parks costs. You can't just slough off a $9B deficit to a bad economy alone. And despite what you see on the news not every State has budgetary problems. There are many States that aren't running a deficit, unfortunately Washington isn't one of them. If the legislators and the govenor can't find the money, then fine shut them down. But they won't make the hard decisions to make it work. Because the economy is in tough shape, more people are staying closer to home and wanting to use those parks. Now is not the time to cut off funding for the parks or try to extract more from the taxpayers. There maybe those who want the Park users to poney up the $5 but if that's how it's going to work, I want to see those who drive I-405 poney up for their useage too as I might drive a couple mile stretch of that road once or twice a year at best. The tens of millions of dollars expended on fancy sound barriers alone the last couple years alone could have fully floated the Parks budget. And again the ferries users don't pay anywhere close to the actual cost of the operation of the ferries and are heavily subsidized. Let these folks pay their full way too before reaching in my pocket because I want to use a park.
     
  20. You are the one who brought up the concept of politicians cutting "essential services" in the context of a conversation about the parks systems budget problems. Why would you bring that point up if you weren't calling the parks an "essential service"? It would have no bearing on the conversation otherwise.

    The number of states NOT facing budget shortfalls for this fiscal year and/or next is....three. Montana, N. Dakota, and Wyoming. The 47 other states are all in the same boat as Washington. Combined budget gaps (between the states) for the remainder of this fiscal year and state fiscal years 2010 and 2011 are estimated to total more than $350 billion. So I'd say Washington state has some good company of every political stripe. Read all about it:

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=711

    While I don't agree with it, this is a legitimate stance to take. I think the three main positions on this issue are:

    • Everybody pays their share no matter how much they use the resource.
    • Only the users pay and they pay exactly what it costs.
    • If there's no money, close the parks down.

    However, every one of those is a horrible landmine for users, taxpayers, and politicians. So, like most things, the answer is probably in the middle. Users pay some, the general population pays some, and perhaps some underused parks or services are closed. The $5 tab thing is just one aspect of that.
     

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