Over the weekend, some nature lovers got the chance to wander the great federally funded outdoors again. Thanks to deals brokered with the federal government, some states dipped into their own cash to open their popular national parks, which closed its doors to visitors when the government shut down Oct. 1.
After a push from several governors, the Obama administration announced late last week that it would allow states to use their own money to pay for National Park Service operations. Shuttered parks were costing millions of dollars of revenue a day, state officials had argued. But keeping them open, even for just a week, isn’t cheap. Still, for some states, salvaging a peak tourism season is worth it.
The decision is costing Utah the prettiest penny, at $1.67 million to keep five parks — Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef, which opened Monday — running for 10 days. Next is Arizona, which will pay $651,000 dailoy to fund park operations at the Grand Canyon, which opened Saturday for at least a week. New York will pay $61,600 a day to finance the Statue of Liberty, which opened Sunday, until the shutdown ends. The governor’s office had said more than 10,000 people were turned away each day that the popular site was closed.
Funding operations at Rocky Mountain National Park, which reopened on Saturday, will cost Colorado $362,700 for 10 days. Park operations at Mount Rushmore National Memorial will cost South Dakota $15,200 a day. The memorial saw 3,000 visitors when it reopened Monday, which state officials called average for a snowy October weekday.
For some Western states, however, opening their famous national parks is not an option. Wyoming “cannot use state money to do the work of the federal government,” said a spokesperson for the governor. With the threat of default just days away, California officials said using state money to finance park operations is too risky. Nevada officials say the state can’t afford to pay for parks because they’re focused on budgets for food-stamp programs, unemployment insurance, and other needs.
A group of House members, including 14 Republicans and one Democrat, have proposed legislation that would require the federal government to reimburse states who opt to use their own money to run national parks during the shutdown. But with Washington now focused on the debt-ceiling deadline — and Senate Democrats’ continuing disapproval of other similar House bills providing only partial funding — the bill has nowhere to go but congressional limbo.
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"As Donald Trump captures the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee, a new poll finds he begins his general election campaign well behind Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. The new CNN/ORC Poll, completed ahead of Trump's victory last night, found Clinton leads 54% to 41%, a 13-point edge over the New York businessman, her largest lead since last July. Clinton is also more trusted than Trump on many issues voters rank as critically important, with one big exception. By a 50% to 45% margin, voters say Trump would do a better job handling the economy than Clinton would."
In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal sets out to relieve conservatives of the temptation to back a third-party candidate over Donald Trump. "The thought is more tempting this year than most, but it’s still hard to see how this would accomplish more than electing Hillary Clinton and muddling the message from a Trump defeat. ... The usual presidential result is that the party that splinters hands the election to the other, more united party." But in the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol is having none of it: "Serious people, including serious conservatives, cannot acquiesce in Donald Trump as their candidate. ... Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. The Wall Street Journal cannot bring itself to say that. We can say it, we do say it, and we are proud to act accordingly."
- Nate Cohn, New York Times: "There have been 10-point shifts over the general election season before, even if it’s uncommon. But there isn’t much of a precedent for huge swings in races with candidates as well known as Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. A majority of Americans may not like her, but they say they’re scared of him."
- Roger Simon, PJ Media: "He is particularly fortunate that his opposition, Hillary Clinton, besides still being under threat of indictment and still not having defeated Bernie Sanders (go figure), is a truly uninspiring, almost soporific, figure. ... She's not a star. Trump is. All attention will be on him in the general election. The primaries have shown us what an advantage that is. What that means for American politics may not all be good, but it's true."
- The editors, The Washington Examiner: "At the very least, Trump owes it to the country he boasts he will 'make great again' to try to demonstrate some seriousness about the office he seeks. He owes this even to those who will never consider voting for him. He can start by swearing off grand displays of aggressive and apparently deliberate ignorance. This is not too much to ask."
Humana announced it plans to "exit certain statewide individual markets and products 'both on and off [Obamacare] exchange,' the insurer said in its financial results released Monday." The company also said price hikes may be forthcoming, "commensurate with anticipated levels of risk by state." Its individual-market enrollment was down 21% in the first quarter from a year ago.