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Elimination Of Tax Funding For State Parks Approved By Budget Committee

User Fees At Parks Would Increase Under Proposal

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State tax funding for Wisconsin’s state parks would be zeroed out and user fees would go up under a plan approved by Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee Thursday.

Republicans agreed with Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to cut more than $4.5 million in state funding from the parks each year. They would would make up part of that money by increasing fees on park users and campers. Hazelhurst Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany said that made sense.

“The people that utilize a service, they should pay for that service,” said Tiffany.

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However, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau found there are no other state park systems that are entirely self-sufficient. Democratic Rep. Chris Taylor of Madison said trying to do it in Wisconsin was reckless.

“I don’t know why we would go on down this risky scheme — that’s never, ever worked for any state — and (gamble) with our park system,” said Taylor.

Republicans also rejected a proposal to ban corporate naming rights for Wisconsin state parks. Selling naming rights has not been proposed in this budget, but the DNR has not ruled it out for the future.

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