LEXINGTON, Ky. — The federal government shutdown that ended last week cost states with national landmarks an estimated $2.2 billion in lost tax revenue, according to a new study.
Released by NerdWallet, the study shows California, which is home to 27 national landmarks, lost $648 million in the shutdown while Virginia, home to a number of Civil War re-enactments and battlefields, lost $608 million.
The National Park Service accounts for less than 1 percent of the federal budget, but officials at all levels contend national landmarks are economic drivers. During the 16-day shutdown, federal authorities went as far as barricading memorials to keep visitors out, and some states, such as Arizona, California and Utah, moved to use state funds to open national parks.
“At this time of year, tourists flock to national parks and bring school children to such monuments as the Lincoln Memorial and Statue of Liberty,” Dana Lime, a tax analyst for NerdWallet, told Sightseers’ Delight. “In conjunction with the shutdown, the National Park Service closed national landmarks throughout the country, generating economic losses of over $2 billion for states like California, Virginia, New York and Arizona, which contain a large number of national landmarks.
“In particular, we estimate that California and Virginia lost the most tourism revenues at $648 and $608 million, respectively,” Lime added. “The economy will have to make up for the losses through the private sector in the form of positive corporate earnings growth. Notably, last week the S&P500 soared to record highs, thanks to positive earnings reports from Google and Morgan Stanley.”
In conducting its survey, NerdWallet culled data from state tourism boards and also estimated the number of October visitors to national landmarks based on data from the National Park Service.
“It makes no sense for Washington’s dysfunction to continue hurting Arizonans whose livelihoods depend on Park tourism,” U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said in a joint Oct. 12 statement after Arizona reached an agreement with the federal government to use state funds to reopen the Grand Canyon National Park.
Arizona state officials were eager to reopen the park, claiming visitors spend upwards of $1.2 million per day in the park.
Amid the shutdown, the Republican-led House tried to fund national parks through the “Open Our Nation’s Parks and Museums Act.” The bill would have provided funding for national parks, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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