state parks

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Default doh!

Michigan’s state parks, like Washington’s state parks, are suffering from a budget crunch. The Michigan Senate, like the Washington legislature, wants to replace park entry fees with an annual fee that drivers would pay when they renew their vehicle registrations. The Washington legislature has decided to make paying the fee the default option, while offering drivers the option to opt out. Michigan’s Senate wants to make not paying the fee the default rule, which would likely defeat the whole purpose of using the default rule to fund the parks appropriately.

Michigan’s House wants to set an opt-in default rule. So does the Secretary of State. Stay tuned for a resolution.

Hat tip: Brad Scheck

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Faced with a budget crunch and the possible closing of some state parks, Washington state legislators have switched the default rule on state park fees that drivers pay when they renew their license plates. Previously, paying the $5 fee had been an option for drivers. The state switched to an opt-out arrangement where drivers are charged the fee unless they ask not to pay it. For transparency, the state provides information to each driver explaining the reason behind the change. So far, the move has worked.

September’s $1.4 million total includes donations from people who paid their license tab fees early – in July and August – and from others who donated money using avenues other than the license-tab fee program. Some people are donating more than $5, Painter said, adding that “one person wrote a note saying that she was donating $50 to help make up for the people who don’t donate.”

The Olympian editorial board thinks the move is good for tough economic times, but isn’t sure it’s a long-term solution for the state park budget.

Hat tip: Jeff and Pam Marti

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