By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, March 22, the Alabama Senate passed SB260, which is a constitutional amendment to protect the Alabama State Parks funding from future budget battles. Over the last several years, millions of dollars of parks funding has been transferred to prop up Alabama’s struggling Corrections System and state Medicaid program.
Senator Clay Scofield (R-Boaz) said, “My bill to protect state park funding passed the Senate yesterday and will now advance to the House of Representatives where it will be handled by Kerry Rich, the House sponsor of the bill and supported by Will Ainsworth, David Standridge, Rep Randall Shedd, Nathaniel Ledbetter, and others.”
Alabama State Parks Partners said, “Alabama’s Legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment (SB260) to permanently protect Alabama’s State Parks funding so that the money that is generated in the parks system moving forward stays in the parks system. This is a significant bill and we urge all legislators to vote for this bill without amendments. The Legislature needs to move forward with this bill because the people of Alabama deserve the opportunity to vote on this critical amendment. The Parks System has lost $15 million over the past 5 years in legislative transfers and can’t afford any others. We don’t want to see any other closures at our beloved State parks here in Alabama. Future generations should have access to these God-given natural resources and outdoor opportunities we’re blessed with here in Alabama. Please ask your legislators to continue moving this bill forward without amendments.”
After the legislature transferred $3 million from the Alabama State Parks to the troubled Alabama Medicaid Agency in September, the Parks Systems closed Bladon Springs, Chickasaw, Paul Grist, Roland Cooper and Florala State Parks. Bladon Springs. Bladon Springs and Florala both reopened under local control.
Rickwood Caverns was closed during the winter months, the golf course at Lakepoint State Park was slated to be either privatized or closed and the restaurant at Mount Cheaha switched to weekend operations only.
As many as 21 State Parks were threatened with closure at one point in the 2016 budget process.
By Brandon Moseley