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State Representative Jim Grego, R-Wilburton, said he was in total dismay after learning of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s plan to start charging fees to enter state-owned parks, which traditionally have been free except for extra amenities.
Representative Grego worked tirelessly alongside Representative Johnny Tadlock, R-Idabel, during the past legislative session trying to postpone or eliminate what he is calling a new tax.
“In committee hearings, Tourism Director Jerry Winchester continued to try to sell us his cause,” Grego said. “We introduced House Bill 2884, which would have allowed exceptions from these fees for local citizens.
“It’s hard for me to understand when a lake was built 90 years ago on donated land and the cost of construction was paid with public funds, that now we are going to charge our citizens a fee to enjoy this body of water.”
Grego said as a child growing up in Latimer County, going to Robber’s Cave State Park’s Lake Carlton was one of the few outings his family of 12 could afford.
“Now we are going to price this park out of reach to our very own local citizens,” he said.
“This is clearly an issue near and dear to me,” Representative Grego explained. “When you have a state-owned property that was originally paid for with tax dollars, I just do not see how the state can charge the same people that paid for it to now use this facility.”
Grego said he will appeal to the Tourism Department to reconsider this fee.
“I will always continue to be a voice for our hard-working Oklahomans,” he said.