New tax for state parks would entrench wrong approach to funding

by Byron Schlomach, Ph.D.
Goldwater Institute
Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs approved HCR 2040, a measure that would refer yet another tax increase to Arizona voters. The proposal would require every Arizonan to pay an additional $12 for each license plate registration. The money would be directed to the state parks agency in an attempt to reopen some sites and to fund improvements at others.

HCR 2040 would establish this new tax at a time when few can afford the luxury of paying for other peoples’ recreation. Not everyone benefits from the state parks any more than everyone benefits when my family dines at a restaurant.

This new funding mechanism would place state parks in a position of unaccountable financial independence somewhat similar to the state transportation department and the new Early Childhood Development & Health Board. Self-funded agencies often are not particularly responsive to those they are supposed to serve.

One of the biggest complaints from legislators as they work on the state budget this week revolves around Proposition 105, the 1998 initiative that protects voter-approved spending. The repeated excuse for failing to respond to falling tax revenues has been that much of the spending is off-limits to legislators.

HCR 2040 would make this problem worse, placing more of a financial burden on Arizonans that cannot be easily offset and would further erode our tax-paying capacity. Tax revenues should be spent according to current circumstances and constitutional limits, not momentary whims that later become inflexible mandates.

There is another solution on the table to keep parks open: let private companies manage them and pay the state for the privilege. Last week Fox News commentator Glenn Beck interviewed a local business owner who wants the opportunity to keep our parks open. Until the legislature gives this idea a fair shake, a tax increase shouldn’t even be discussed.

Dr. Byron Schlomach is an economist and the director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute.


  1. HR 2040 won’t see the light of day in House Appropriations.

  2. Oberserve says

    More tax increasing Republicans?

    Is there any wonder why we keep losing elections?

  3. Stephen Kohut says

    Why would Don Bivens need more Dem’s in the legislature when he can have RINO’s do the work of his party for him?

  4. Maintaining roads, public land, and public saftey is the State’s first, if not only, priority. Yet close to 60% of the State budget is consumed by over-priced, indiscriminately distributed health care services and food stamp benefits. Vehicle registrations fees are already too high in Arizona. First, newer cars that pollute less are penalized with higher registration fees. Second, the price we pay in one year in AZ could cover tag registrations for four years in other states. We need a low flat registration fees AND we need the legislature to get out of our pocket books after sucking them dry with non-essential expenditures. As far as I’m concerned, the parks department should close the parks and throw away the keys until the State deals with the big fat elephant in the room: a wide open border! Besides, drug cartels are making enough money from the use of our parks to fill budget gaps in Arizona and California.

    The state can hardly take care of its business and families can hardly produce anything because nitwits love to raise taxes instead of doing their jobs.

    Take back our media, get the red and blue Arizona liberals out of office, and watch Arizona come back to life.

  5. The local private enterprise model is a great idea. The local park near us has lots of local supporters who already volunteer hours and hours of their time every week, every month, every year to provide enhanced services to the public. These people do this because they love the park and love telling people about the history that goes with it. The local news is full of news about the state closing it due to lack of funds.
    Restoring local control will keep far more parks open, and will allow improvement based on local initiative and enterprise, not remote state budgeting priorities.

  6. Oberserve says

    “Blah blah blah blah everyone’s going to die unless we RAISE TAXES.”


    RINOs raise taxes. RINOs are libs.

    Republicans LOWER TAXES and come up with more efficient government solutions that do not require raising taxes!

    To the RINO libs…. guess what, everyone’s going to be JUST FINE if we do not raise taxes.

  7. Yeah, right. says

    Oberserve just proved himself incompetent to govern.

    At this point, taxes have been cut to unsustainable levels.

    The Pawn Stars customer mentality of the Republicans refusing to face reality is digging a deeper hole.

    Oberserve, enjoy the higher taxes you are going to pay, and part of the reason you will pay those taxes is to pay interest on debt that Republicans voted on and took on because they were scared to raise taxes.

    In other words, grow up, or join the tea party in flight from reality.

    Calling republicans who can actually count Rinos just shows how ignorant your rants are becoming.


  8. The only thing operating at unsustainable levels in Arizona is spending.

  9. Oberserve says

    lol@yeah right

    There is NO SUCH THING as a “revenue shortfall.”

    There is only OVERSPENDING.

  10. Harris Shirley says

    Who wrote this piece of trash legislation? Why the Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs … the same man who’s running openly against Senator Sylvia Allen …

    Bill Konopnicki deserves the credit for HCR-2040 … KONOPNICKI, pronounced Ko’pin’icki, Konopnicki.

  11. To Tell The Truth says

    Harris Shirley
    You can not read. The bill was written by Rep Jones. What is wrong with your reading skills or are you so one sided that you cannot tell the truth? Shame on you for only telling part of the truth! For what it’s worth Konopnicki is going to beat Allen by double digits so keep up the good work so more of us will vote for him!!!

  12. Arizona already boasts some of the highest vehicle registration fees in the country. The $12 would be deposited into the Sustainable State Parks Fund, which is used to operate and maintain Arizona parks.

    Do you agree with this bill? Would you vote for this additional fee?

    Join the conversation at!

Leave a Reply