Some Good News. Outdoor Recreation Wins in the State Budget
The 2020 state legislative session is over and there were lots of wins for public lands and outdoor recreation. Our lawmakers supported everything from sustainable funding sources and Discover Passes in libraries to State Parks and No Child Left Inside. Take a moment to thank them.
Update, 4/3/20: In light of the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Jay Inslee used his line-item veto authority to trim $235 million from the 2020 supplemental operating budget.
“These are difficult and challenging times and we must make difficult and challenging choices. Under normal circumstances, I would not veto bills and budget items that are good policy and smart investments for the state. As everyone knows, these are not normal times," Inslee said.
For the hiker community and WTA's priorities, the vetoed items include the $500,000 for the No Child Left Inside program and the $75,000 for the funding of an outdoor recreation advisory group. We understand that these budget items were only cut due to the extraordinary circumstances we are in, and we remain committed to advocating for this funding in the future.
It’s official. Washington’s 2020 state legislative session has come to a close and, with the help of hiker advocates, WTA achieved some important wins. With a lot on their plates over the past couple of weeks, our lawmakers made a strong show of collective support for our state public lands in the final 2020 supplemental budget. We want to thank our lawmakers for their commitment to public lands, as well as their hard work and dedication to the health and safety of our state.
Lawmakers demonstrated a strong commitment to investing in outdoor recreation funding and support for State Parks for both the No Child Left Inside grant program and their deferred maintenance needs. They also expanded funding for Discover Pass availability at libraries!
Read on for more detail on WTA’s legislative priorities.
WASHINGTON STATE PARKS
What we requested: We supported State Parks efforts to help reduce the $500 million in deferred maintenance backlog and expand pivotal youth programming by supporting requests for:
- $4.785 million (operating - agency request) for park maintenance to meet demands of increasing use.
What actually made the budget: We are pleased to see a continued commitment to funding maintenance and operations work in State Parks with a total allocation of $2.3 million in the final budget. This funding will go toward increased park staff and supporting Washington Conservation Corps to work on maintenance.
NO Child Left Inside
What we requested: This program, which is jointly managed by the Recreation and Conservation Office and State Parks and Recreation Commission, provides vital grants to Washington state outdoor education and recreation programs for youth. In 2019, the grant program’s success generated significant interest, but $6.5 million in grant funding requests for this program were left unfunded. We supported:
- $500,000 (operating) in additional funding to address some of the unmet needs of this program.
What actually made the budget: We are ecstatic to report that No Child Left Inside received the full $500,000 in the budget! A long-time priority for us, this is a huge win for WTA and our partners. The continued support of this important program is critical to ensuring that all youth can experience the outdoors. Read more about the recent No Child Left Inside legislative day in Olympia.
Setting a Long-term Vision
There were two other exciting developments from this legislative session that both received full funding!
Funding for an Outdoor recreation Advisory Group
The final budget provided $75,000 for one-time funding through the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) for an outdoor recreation advisory group. The advisory group would bring together state agencies and stakeholders to develop a bold vision and 25-year legislative strategy to invest in, promote and support state outdoor recreation in Washington. WTA is working closely with state agencies and nonprofit partners to create sustainable funding sources for outdoor recreation, and this group will serve as a critical next step in advancing these efforts. We are excited to see the advisory group funded so we can continue to think about the future of funding mechanisms.
MOre dIscover Passes in Libraries!
We are excited to see the final budget dedicate $35,000 to funding for the expansion of Discover Passes in libraries. This legislation allows any library to request two Discover Passes to make available for checkout by library patrons. SB 6670 emerged this year as an important bill to expand access to trails. The funding of this legislation shows a shared commitment to ensure trails are available to everyone, forever.
A final thanks ... to you!
If it hadn’t been for advocates like you, we wouldn’t have made such important progress! In just two months, you collectively sent almost 1,000 emails to state lawmakers. Your collective voice sent an important message to your representatives — the people of Washington value our public lands! Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.