The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has concluded that it cannot make the park system self-supporting and will need the help of general fund tax dollars. The commission plans to ask for $18 million from the general fund in its 2013-15 budget request.
When it cut off general fund support for parks, the state established a Discover Pass program, setting fees for park users, but receipts from that program have been 50 percent lower than expected. Joe Taller, the commission chairman, said state parks cannot operate at an acceptable level without general fund support. Even if an $18 million budget request is approved, he said, it “won’t put us at the level that the commission wants…But we’ve got to improve the service level we have currently. We can’t sustain services on what we have now.”