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Arizona wants full refund for reopening Grand Canyon in shutdown

Arizona wants all of its money back for fronting the cost of reopening the Grand Canyon during the government shutdown.
Grand Canyon
A view of the Grand Canyon at sunset from Moran Point on the South Rim on July 23, 2013.

Arizona wants its money back for fronting the cost of reopening the Grand Canyon during the recent government shutdown.

A delegation of Arizona senators and representatives sent a letter to National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis on Wednesday, formally requesting a full refund for the money that the state and business donors paid out of pocket to temporarily re-open the Grand Canyon National Park in October.

The group of lawmakers, which includes Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, argued “the Park Service reaped a ‘shutdown windfall’ by collecting entrance fees and retroactive funding with the passage of the Contenting Resolution.”

State and local leaders leveraged $465,000 to reopen the park, one of America’s biggest tourist attractions, for five days between October 12 and October 16. In the letter, they demanded the government follow similar protocol to the 1995 shutdown, when the state got reimbursed for the full amount of $370,125 to operate the park for 21 days until the federal government reopened.

“Given steps taken in the past and the retroactive funding that was provided, we believe it is appropriate that the Park Service provide a full refund to states in a similar situation as Arizona,” read the letter.

The letter also noted the financial hardships suffered by nearby businesses that lost about $200,000 each day of the shutdown and directly affected the 2,200 employees working inside the park, according to their estimates.

Along with four other states, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer reached a special deal with the government open up the Grand Canyon during that period, provided the state would foot the bill.

Last month, the AP reported Arizona got a partial refund of $186,000 from the feds.