Governor Bob McDonnell released his recommendations for streamlining the budget. There was no doubt that difficult decisions had to be reached when making cuts, especially to services that may benefit those within the Commonwealth. However, there were some cuts that had to be made to curb wasteful and unnecessary spending on services that may not directly benefit those in the Commonwealth.
Case in point, Governor McDonnell recommended closing five state parks. These state parks were the least visited parks in the Commonwealth, and it was more cost effective to close these parks. It is also ironic that McDonnell is receiving criticism for this decision. Back when Mark Warner was Governor, not only did he cut back on park operations, he also closed DMV offices. Pressure from the public caused him to reconsider this decision.
The parks that will be closed, if the General Assembly approves that component of the McDonnell budget recommendations, are the ones listed in the 15% reduction in spending plan put together by the Department of Conservation and Recreation during the Kaine Administration. The selections were made at the agency level, but not acted upon by that Administration. The McDonnell administration has included the proposal in their cost saving recommendations.
DCR made the selections using the following criteria:
1) Geographic Distribution: Each of the selected parks are in a different region of the state (7 “districts” contain multiple parks) to ensure that no one region was overly affected.
2) Revenue: Each of the selected parks generated lower revenues than other parks in their district.
Money is tight all across the board, and in fact, there are six new state parks that can not open due to *surprise* a lack of funds necessary for operations. This is really particularly interesting considering that there were two bond referendums in 1992 and 2002 that purchased land for these parks. Irony once again rears its ugly head to prove that over the course of ten years, there is not enough money to run these parks…go figure!
When you look at these budget recommendations, it is best to keep an interest on how your tax dollars are being spent in Richmond. Would you rather have your tax dollars go to a public service that would help those who need it or would you rather it go to parks that get little to no visitors?