December 9, 2011

Legislation to help make up Parks shortfall, but situation still dire

On the day after the stunning announcement that state Parks was cutting $11 million and potentially laying off some 160 staff because of the slow takeoff in sales of the Discover Pass, members on Wednesday (Dec. 7) continued their fight on several fronts.

• The Parks Union-Management Communication Committee held an emergency meeting at the agency’s Tumwater headquarters.

• A majority of both the Senate and House signed onto companion bills aimed at helping to boost sales of the Discover Pass to make up the $11 million deficit.
Senate Bill 5977, prime sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker of the 40th District, had 33 of the Senate’s 49 members sign on. House Bill 2153, prime sponsored by Rep. Zack Hudgins of the 11th District, had the backing of 53 of the House’s 98 members.

Both bills would correct a flaw some believe has hindered sales. It would allow the Discover Pass to be transferred to one other vehicle.

• And at a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Natural Resource agency programs, Statewide Parks Local 1466's Terry McCullough asked lawmakers for help to make up the shortfall caused by the slow takeoff of Discover Pass sales.

“If we don’t fill the shortfall, parks will be forced to cut $11 million from our budget,” McCullough told the senators on the committee. “Because of that, this week, 160 park employees were told that their positions will be eliminated.

“What does that look like to the public? There will be parks with no ranger assigned to it. No one there to sell a Discover Pass. No one to check camper registrations. No one to quiet noisy campers after 10 o’clock. No one to chase away the bad guys. There will be no law enforcement to keep our families safe. ...

“Pick parks. Look at your budget. Increase revenue. Ask corporations to take the same 3 percent cut on their tax exemptions that state employees have taken in our wages. It’s only fair.”

At the same hearing, Federation Lobbyist Alia Griffing encouraged lawmakers “to look other places to raise dollars to help support critical services and keep our state from going backwards. It’s clear that we need additional revenue and we know that it will take some creativity and proverbial cojones.”

• And the union continues to independently promote the Discover Pass. You can help by buying the $30 annual Discover Pass, which gives you access to nearly 7 million acres of state parks, water-access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas and trailheads. You can purchase the Discover Pass online at or call (866) 320-9933 24 hours a day. The online site also has links to some 600 local vendors where you can buy the passes in person.

If you buy the Discover Pass at a state park or agency headquarters in Tumwater, you won't have to pay the extra transaction fee. Join the team and buy your Discover Pass! Great gift idea for the holidays.

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