We would like to correct the record regarding a recent Olympian editorial about Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program funding in the Senate’s capital budget proposal. The Senate budget does not cherry-pick ranked lists of WWRP projects, as your editorial insisted. We did, however, draw an important distinction between which categories made more sense to fund given our state’s current financial resources.
We fully funded local parks and trails in the ranked order the WWRP recommended. But we proposed a temporary pause on most new land acquisitions, for two reasons. First, parks and trails benefit more people and allow easier and more immediate public access. Second, our current lack of operating revenues already lacks the funds to manage former acquisitions, never mind the funds needed to restore and manage any new land acquisitions.
Complaints about poorly maintained state lands are already abundant, and numerous counties complain of the loss of property tax revenues. The Senate chose to focus on recreational options the public can use now and delay more land purchases until the state regains the capacity to manage the properties and also pay PILT (payments in lieu of taxes) on such large land holdings. Rather than play politics with the WWRP formula, this budget makes efficient use of our limited taxpayer dollars in the taxpayers’ best interests.
State Sen. Karen Keiser, 33rd Legislative District
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State Sen. Steve Conway, 29th Legislative District