This past week Washington Governor Jay Inslee released his state budget. While the Governor has
highlighted his top priorities as addressing education and mental health, his budget recognizes
the importance of outdoor recreation. As a kayaker and outdoor enthusiast himself, the Governor
recognizes that investment in outdoor recreation is good for the state economy (a $22 billion
industry that generates significant tax revenue for the state), promotes a healthy active
lifestyle, and is a defining character of the quality of life we enjoy in Washington State.
A highlight of the state budget is the $100 million commitment to the Washington Wildlife and
Recreation Program. Earlier this year American Whitewater joined with our partners in the
Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition to request $120 million for this program and the
Governor's budget represents a strong commitment towards our aspirational ask.
For State Parks, the budget invests in needed maintenance, proposes to extend the litter tax that
provides critical funding for State Parks, and invests in projects for new State Parks including
Nisqually State Park where we have been working to secure improved river access (currently the
road providing access to the river is gated 1.5 miles from the river).
For Department of Natural Resources, the proposed budget proposes a significant investment of
over $2 million in capital and operating funds for the Teanaway Community Forest. The river
flowing through this new public forest, recently acquired and saved from private development, is
enjoyed for whitewater recreation during the spring snowmelt; we are pleased to see the
commitment to restore the land and enhance the quality of the recreational experience.
For Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the budget commits to enhanced investment in
prevention and response to Aquatic Invasive Species that we strongly support while removing the
proposal for a new $5 user fee for kayakers and canoeists pending a more comprehensive assessment
of user fees for outdoor recreation.
Other key investments including an enhanced commitment to get kids outside by doubling funding to
No Child Left Inside, an increase in funding for the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, and for
urban trail enthusiasts a proposal to extend the Eastside Rail Corridor trail with a $5 million
investment in the Wilburton Trestle.
Realizing these commitments to outdoor recreation in the Governor's budget will require a
reassessment of how revenue is generated. On the revenue side, new proposals include, a new
carbon tax on the state’s biggest pollution sources, a 1% increase in the Business and
Operations services tax (with a lifting of the tax credit threshold to $100k, eliminating taxes
for over 30k small businesses), a new capital gains tax that would impact the states 30k
wealthiest individuals, and elimination of school levy property taxes, lowering property taxes
for 75% of Washington households. If these efforts are unsuccessful, we will likely see budget
cuts to outdoor recreation and increased pressure for additional reliance on user fees and a
piecemeal and inefficient approach to funding outdoor recreation.