A relaxing walk on the beach, camping with the family or catching your favorite fish: This is about as far away as you can get from a polling place but state park leaders say this election is critical to the financial future of the state park system and are making a major push to get Amendment 2 passed by voters.
“If it doesn’t pass we are in status quo,” says state parks director Greg Lein. “We are in the same spot we’ve been in for the last five years which is a place of uncertainty.”
Over the last five years, state lawmakers have taken money for the parks budget to shore up other budget shortfalls. Amendment 2 would keep that from happening according to Lein,
“To see that money taken that is a morale killer and that’s a hard thing to manage.”
It’s also hard for folks like Herb Malone to understand.
“I have to tell you I am absolutely baffled why we have to pass a constitutional amendment to protect ourselves from our own legislature.”
Since 2012, lawmakers have taken $15 million resulting in five parks closing and restricting the hours of seven others. Lein says it’s bad for park visitors and bad for business.
“The threat of having to close parks in the future because of more transfers that inhibits business. Who wants to plan a wedding a year from now in a park setting that might be closed because of budget transfers?”
A vote for Amendment 2, according to Lein, is a vote for the future of the parks.
Those opposed to the constitutional amendment say it would lead to privatizing the state park system. A claim Lein denies.
Alabama’s 22 state parks pump an estimated 400 million dollars into the state’s economy every year.