-Sen. Nick Harper
That’s the reality facing Washington’s 117 state-run parks which along with 34 other state agencies are facing a potential shutdown if an operating budget isn’t agreed upon by July 1.
The difference with parks, however, is that even if a state shutdown is averted, the damage is already being done.
If no budget deal is reached, State Parks officials plan to send out more than 6,800 emails next week , informing reservation camping customers of the possibility that parks will not be open for business when they arrive.
And that number is just for the first week of July. A closure would represent the potential for $1.7 million in lost revenue. That doesn’t include the impact to local businesses that depend on people visiting parks to frequent their establishments, especially this time of year.
Our parks generate 50 percent of their revenue for the entire year during the months of July and August. In 2011, Minnesota’s parks were shut down and the losses were estimated to cost the state approximately $12 million per week.
If your family was planning to visit the Pacific Northwest and trying to decide which state to stay and spend your money, would you travel to the state that could potentially be closed when you arrive?
Meanwhile, as families throughout Washington brace for the worst, Senate Republicans on Friday spent yet another day doing nothing. On Thursday, rather than tackling the budget or at least passing some of the bills necessary to implement the budget once a deal is in place, Senate Republicans instead passed five policy bills that have absolutely nothing to do with the budget or avoiding a shutdown.
There needs to be a sense of urgency. July 1 is the deadline, but the residual effects are already being felt.
I hope, as does every family in Washington, that we can avoid a shutdown. But even if a shutdown is avoided, the damage is already being done. People must have confidence that if they are going to pack up their family and drive hundreds of miles from home that their destination will be open for business when they arrive.