On Monday, February 18, HB2594, a Bill to reinstate the Heritage Fund, passed unanimously in the Arizona House Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources
HB2594 would reinstate the Local Transportation Assistance Fund (LTAF), which helps to fund transit services, and also the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund, which funds parks programs, environmental education, trails, historic preservation, and more.
Both of these funds received Arizona Lottery revenues but were eliminated by the Legislature and Governor during the 2010 state budget crisis. Under this bill, both funds would receive their original allocations — LTAF would receive $9 million per year and Heritage Fund $10 million per year.
Representative Ethan Orr of Tucson is the primary sponsor of HB2594 with Representatives Juan Carlos Escamilla of San Luis, Karen Fann of Prescott, Frank Pratt of Casa Grande, T.J. Shope of Coolidge, Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff, and Bruce Wheeler of Tucson as cosponsors.
Beth Woodin of Tucson, president of the Arizona Heritage Alliance, noted, “It is heartening to see state legislators recognize the need to restore the Heritage Fund that was overwhelmingly supported by voters in 1990. Over the years, millions of dollars in Heritage Fund matching grants have developed new parks, trail systems, campgrounds, picnic facilities, and lake improvements, as well as preserved important parts of our rich cultural heritage.”
In a study conducted by the Arizona Hospitality Research & Resource Center at Northern Arizona University, it was found that direct expenditures from the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund in 2007, the last full year of Heritage Fund matching grants, were $12.9 million spent on both land acquisition and construction related to maintenance and repair. Direct program expenditures resulted in indirect expenditures of $4.6 million and induced expenditures of $8.5 million for a total economic impact of $26.1 million. Direct expenditures resulted in 125 direct jobs, 33 indirect jobs, and 66 induced jobs, for a total of 224 jobs from the Arizona State Park Heritage Fund. Estimated total taxes for these expenditures (Local, State, and Federal) were $3.3 million.
William Schwind, vice president of the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, stated, “It’s now our hope that the House Appropriations Committee, under the chairmanship of Representative John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills, will give HB2594 a full and fair hearing and move the legislation to the House floor.”
However, two similar bills in the last two legislative sessions were not advanced by Chairman Kavanagh. When recently asked if he would hear HB2594 in Committee, he refused. The reinstatement of the State Parks Heritage Fund is in his hands. He needs to know today that the citizens of Arizona care about this issue.
We urge you to please call or email Representative John Kavanagh at email@example.com, 602-926-5170 and ask him to PLEASE HEAR HB2594 in House Appropriations Committee.