It has been an eventful week in the life of state parks. Tuesday marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of legislation authorizing North Carolina’s first state park at Mount Mitchell. To celebrate the occasion, the Governor signed a proclamation at Umstead State Park to note the occasion and declare the first week of March as “State Parks Week.” At the legislature, Senator Ralph Hise and Representative Michele Presnell made floor statements to commemorate the anniversary.
Thursday, Governor McCrory released his proposed 2015-17 budget. Highlights include:
- transferring state parks, the zoo, state aquariums, and the Museum of Natural Sciences to the Department of Cultural Resources;
- $13M for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund each year (same funding level as FY 2014-15);
- $11.4M for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund each year (reduction of $233,151 over FY 2014-15);
- Reductions to state parks of $3,321,500 in FY 2015-16 and $7,140,900 in FY 2016-17 through “dynamic pricing and promotions, increase private support through creation of a unified pass for State parks, and realize savings by establishing seasonal hours."
The last item is one that I am in the process of obtaining additional details about. It appears that the Governor is proposing charging for parking in some State parks, and potential seasonal hour reductions. As soon as I learn more details, I will pass them along.
As a reminder, the Governor proposing his budget is just the first step in the budget process. The Governor’s budget will be presented to the legislature on Tuesday. After a joint (House and Senate) review of the budget, the House will prepare and pass its version of the budget. The Senate will then make their changes to the budget and send it back over to the House. Typically, the House will not concur with the Senate’s changes, then the budget will go to a conference committee to resolve the differences between the two budgets. The goal is to have a new budget in place prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.