Funding sweeps leave Arizona state parks in shambles

[Source: John Collins Rudolf, The Zonie Report] — The steady gaze of Ernest McFarland, who in the mid-20th century served Arizona as a U.S. senator, governor and state supreme court justice, looks down on every visitor to the state park that bears his name, a restored frontier courthouse in dusty Florence, built in 1874.

“We will never be perfect in our government, but high ideals can predominate,” reads a brass plaque beneath the portrait, quoting one of McFarland’s favorite sayings. Yet perfection is hardly the word that comes to mind during a tour of McFarland State Historic Park.  Massive cracks stretch from floor to ceiling on more than one of the building’s original adobe walls.  A support beam braces a crumbling exterior wall, keeping the wall and sections of roof from collapsing. In another room, which over the years served variously as a jail, county hospital and prisoner-of-war camp, caution tape warns visitors to avoid a gaping hole in the floor.  [Note: to read the full article, click here.]

Arizona State Parks loses its improvement funding

[Source: DeWayne Smith, Arizona Republic] — Although the Game and Fish Department was hit quite hard in the recent fund sweeps to balance the state’s budget, Arizona State Parks, which administers the State Lake Improvement Fund, found its coffers empty, thanks to the Arizona Legislature.

According to State Parks Director Ken Travous, the Arizona State Parks Board had to cancel all of its improvement-fund grants for this year, about $4 million.  “The Legislature swept everything except but what we need to operate,” said Travous, whose agency is a favorite place for legislators to find extra dollars to bolster general-fund agencies when times are lean.  [Note: to read the full article, click here.]

Arizona Legislature dips into Game and Fish Dept.’s funds

[Source: DeWayne Smith, Arizona Republic] — Larry Voyles, Director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, likens the recent “sweep” of dedicated funds from his agency by the Arizona Legislature to balance the state’s massive budget to going unarmed into a knife fight.

“If you are not willing to get cut, you will be killed,” said Voyles.  “So, you want to take the cut on the outside of the forearm where there is no critical vein and bone is hit pretty quick, but not to the brain, liver or the heart.”  Voyles pointed out that Game and Fish didn’t want to lose anything, but the situation being what it was, “The main thing was to protect funds that are eligible to be used for matching federal excise taxes,” the heart of the wildlife agency’s budget.  [Note: to read the full article, click here.]