Budget cuts could hobble Arizona state parks system

[Source: Mary Jo Pitzl and Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — Proposed budget cuts to state parks could shut down the entire system by July 1, the agency’s director told lawmakers Thursday.  The dire scenario was the darkest to emerge from the cuts lawmakers are considering as they meet in a special session to take another whack at reducing the state’s $1.6 billion deficit.

The cuts are part of a proposed 7.5 percent reduction in the budgets of myriad agencies, according to the budget bill released Thursday morning.  But as testimony showed, not all cuts are created equal.

The elimination of nearly $9 million from the various funds that sustain the parks will add up to half of the system shutting down immediately, Director Renee Bahl told the Senate Appropriations Committee.  For example, the proposed loss of $1.9 million from the state lake-improvement fund would make it impossible to operate the state parks along the Colorado River, such as Lake Havasu State Park.  [Note: Read the full article at Budget cuts could hobble Arizona state parks system.]