Services at state parks on the Kenai Peninsula and around the state may suffer if cuts that have cleared the State House hold up in the Senate.
But State Parks Director Jim Stratton is not worried -- yet.
"We're fully funded in the Senate subcommittee," Stratton said. "If (the Parks budget) works its way through (uncut), it will be set up for a showdown, if you will, in conference committee."
The Parks budget was earmarked for $280,000 in cuts in the Natural Resources Subcommittee of the House Finance Committee, chaired by Rep. Gail Phillips, R-Homer. If the Senate recommends a different amount, or no cuts, the issue would be worked out between the two bodies in a joint conference committee.
Stratton said it would be premature to make a list of what would be cut in various parks around the state, but he said any cuts would come from services.
"Cuts have been aimed at operation costs -- at the people who clean the toilets, clean up the campgrounds and fix the roads," Stratton said.
If the House cuts are mirrored in the Senate, Stratton said, he would then have to come up with a list detailing what will be cut back or eliminated in the Parks budget.
"Until I find out how real these cuts are, I don't want to stir up a big hullabaloo," Stratton said. "But if they look real, we'll need to take action well before the cuts reach the conference committee."
He compared the cuts this year to a similar situation in 1998.
"That year we made a big ruckus and got our cuts restored," Stratton said.
He added that in the five years he's been at the helm of the Parks Department, he's had a good relationship with the Senate.
"We've had full funding in the Senate every year," he said.
A spokesperson for Phillips said she was on the floor of the House all day Wednesday and was unavailable for immediate comment.
He said he didn't know why Parks had been targeted in the House, but said it had nothing to do with an increase in federal funding from U.S. Rep. Don Young's proposed Conservation and Reinvestment Act.
"Those (federal) funds are not for operations, and that's where the state cuts are aimed," Stratton said. "Besides, the state would have to match the Conservation funds."
The Conservation and Reinvestment Act would funnel money from off-shore oil leases and fund in perpetuity the Land Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $3.25 million.
The Conservation and Reinvestment Act bill has cleared Young's Resources Committee. It is now on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is meeting with some resistance from the Republican majority.
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