- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A task force appointed by the governor recommends bringing back two unpopular taxes to help fund Washington state parks and the outdoor recreation industry.

The report from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation recommends a sales tax on bottled water and an excise tax on motor homes and travel trailers.

They could collect $100 million in the next two-year budget, The Daily Herald reported Monday (https://bit.ly/1sKKuJC ).

Gov. Jay Inslee did not endorse the taxes in a statement last week, but they could become part of his budget proposal in December.

The Legislature approved a tax on bottled water in 2010 only to see it repealed the same year by voters. The state ended an excise tax on motor homes and travel trailers after voters passed an initiative in 2000.

In addition to the taxes, the task force also proposes creating a position in the Department of Commerce to focus on the needs of the outdoor recreation industry. And a coordinating council should be set up to improve access to local, state and federal lands. Those could cost $750,000-a-year, the report estimates.

The task force concluded that people using parks and public lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife are required to cover too much of the cost. The current Discover Pass, which costs $30 a year or $10 for a day pass, is unpopular and a barrier to some people, the task force said.

Inslee directed the task force to come up with ideas for stabilizing state park funding and marketing the industry to tourists. The 29-member panel began work in April. It held five public meetings and received 3,000 comments online.

Providing opportunities for outdoor recreation should be treated as an essential government service, the task force said.

“Outdoor recreation is not just fun and games,” the report said.

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Information from: The Daily Herald, https://www.heraldnet.com

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