If Washingtonians are going to pay more for nature, why not for culture?
Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, who plans to introduce a bill this week to charge an annual fee to visit state parks, wants to amend it later to add another perk to the parks passes: access to the state’s history museums.
Gov. Chris Gregoire wants to mothball the museums in Tacoma, Spokane and Olympia to save the state $5 million over two years. She also has proposed eliminating the state arts commission. Lawmakers are looking for alternatives.
"I’m definitely trying here to find a way to keep them open," said Van De Wege, a Sequim Democrat who co-chairs a group meeting in the Legislature that styles itself the Heritage Caucus.
Paying the annual fee for parks could allow people to skip the museum’s fees of up to $8 per visit. Those raise hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, said state Historical Society Director David Nicandri, but Van De Wege’s proposal could raise several million.
That’s if the idea gets any traction. Asked this week about the idea, the sponsor of the Senate bill, Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island, simply said: “No.”
It would make the parks proposal complex, Ranker explained.