Pennsylvania’s state parks have become a political pawn between Republicans sparring with Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell over a 2009-10 budget that is due by the end of this month. Both sides say they won’t know what will happen to the parks until a final budget is approved, according to the Meadvill (Pa.) Tribune.
In the latest salvo, the state House Appropriations Committee shot down a state Senate budget proposal from Republicans that would have been $19 million less for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) than what the governor proposed.
If put in place, the plan would have meant closure of at least 35 and as many as 50 of the state’s 117 state parks, according to a news release from DCNR.
Officials at DCNR and the area’s representatives say it’s too early to tell what may happen to the state parks since there is no budget in place. By law, Pennsylvania is to have a budget by each June 30 for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.
In 2007, a delay in passing the state budget on time actually shut down all of Pennsylva-nia’s state parks for a few days.
Pete Houghton, superintendent at Pymatuning State Park, said he knows economic times are tough.
“We’re going to be challenged,” Houghton said of the season ahead.
The park already has fewer employees than last year at this time. It has 21 full-time workers compared to 23 last year. Also, the park has only six seasonal custodians instead of the 12 it had last year, and three laborers instead of the four it had last year.