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2008 Bush Budget Opinion Editorial

 

Looking for the Pea in a Budget Shell Game

Robert Mutch

February 28, 2007

www.craterlakeinstitute.com

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as much as you please
 -- Mark Twain

Before we get too giddy about the President's proposed 2008 budget, with regard to the Park Service's management of Crater Lake National Park, why don't we look at a few facts first.

Of the $230 million "increase" in park operations, $211 million is actually at the expense of other Park programs. A closer look at this budget shows that maintenance and construction, historic preservation, state assistance and land acquisition will be reduced to MOVE money, not increase overall benefits.

Our second concern is a proposal that would match POTENTIAL private contributions with tax dollars, dollar-for-dollar, up to $100 million a year for ten years. This drastically alters the way we have funded our national parks for over 100 years and forces the Park Manager into a role of “panhandler”.

Additional Links:

 

For a more complete analysis of the 2008 budget, please visit the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR). This esteemed group has hundreds of years combined experience at analyzing federal budgets. The CNPSR has produced the following two documents.

 

- Talking Points on 2008 Proposed Budget

 

- letter to Congressman Norm Dicks, Chair of the Committee on Appropriations, SubCommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

With a mandate to reach the annual goal of $100 million in donations, managers may seek donations from sources beyond the appropriate philanthropic ones. This could open the door to less altruistic “investors” in our National Parks. Over time, this could result in parks being far less public, and far more private.

Public Television now replaces vanishing government funding with commercials, so too might sponsors advertise themselves in the parks. These donors might also feel they have the right to dictate how parks are to be maintained and operated.

Philanthropy could quickly turn into philandering.

The long and proud tradition of true philanthropy in national parks should always be considered an "added value" above the necessary core level of publicly funded service and protection in our national parks. Volunteer contributions should never be construed as a replacement for federal support.

Requiring NPS to find private sector funds to support basic capital improvements/maintenance could also skew what projects get done. There will likely be greater emphasis on “show me” projects to honor private investors such as new visitor centers, or rehabilitation of prominent historic sites, rather than meeting dire park infrastructure needs such as utilities or roads.

In our analysis, the limited overall increase in “new” money is only 2% above 2006 levels and only $14 million higher than 2002 appropriations. The 2007 cost of living adjustment for Social Security was 3.3%.

William Steel dedicated much of his life to getting Crater Lake established as a national park, ensuring it was protected from special interests, and helping visitors to appreciate it's extraordinary beauty. Many others have given much, educators, scientists, and concerned citizens following in his footsteps. Let us follow in their footsteps. Ensure Crater Lake remains our park for generations to come.
 

 Ron Mastrogiuseppe

Crater Lake Institute Board President

National Park Service, Retired

 

Robert Mutch

Executive Director, Crater Lake Institute

 

Owen Hoffman

Crater Lake Institute Board Member

 

 

 

 

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Contact Information

 

Press Relations, Ron Mastrogiuseppe (President and founder, m13cli@yahoo.com

 

More information

 

Go to the White House Office of Management and Budget for a copy of the 2008 proposed budget.