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Wild Times November 2019

Thanks to a bill passed by the Texas Legislature, Texans now have a chance to make their voices heard about funding for state and local parks and historic sites.

On November 5, 2019, Texans will head to the polls for a Constitutional Amendment Election. Proposition 5 or “Prop. 5” is one of 10 measures on the ballot. Prop. 5 will dedicate revenue from the existing Sporting Goods Sales Tax, so those dollars can only be used by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) on public parks and historic sites. Some of these dollars will also be used for local park grants through TPWD’s local park grant program.

If passed, Prop. 5 will not create any new taxes or fees but will provide millions of additional dollars for park funding each year.

State Senator Lois Kolkhorst and State Representative John Cyrier championed the bill to put the measure before voters because they want to ensure that our parks and historical sites have consistent, reliable funding for generations to come. The bill passed with near unanimous support, and more than 75 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of conservationists, land owners, hunters, anglers, business leaders and outdoor enthusiasts are supporting it.

Now it’s our turn. On November 5, Texans will have the opportunity to vote YES on Prop. 5 to protect Texas' natural areas, water quality and history. Early voting starts on October 21. 

For more information go to SupportTexasParks.org

 


Story #2: Sporting Goods Sales Tax Supports Parks


Passage of Prop. 5 on November 5 will steer millions of dollars each year to state and local parks and historic sites without costing taxpayers another nickel.

That may sound too good to be true, but some background on the issue explains why.

You may not know it, but every time you purchase sporting goods – like a bicycle, fishing tackle, or a tent – a portion of the existing tax you pay is called the Sporting Goods Sales Tax. The Texas Legislature created this tax in 1993 because it realized that revenue from the cigarette tax, which had previously been the mechanism for funding our state parks, was declining. The state needed a way to keep up with growing demand for our parks that was sustainable and linked to the consumers who are active users of outdoor recreation resources.

From 1993 to 2017, more than $2.5 billion in taxes was collected from the sale of sporting goods. Unfortunately, only 40% of those funds made their way to our parks. Every two years, TPWD and THC have to submit appropriations requests to the Texas Legislature, and the percentage of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax actually appropriated each year has varied wildly. This variability has made long-term planning near impossible. Many sites face serious structural challenges from deteriorating infrastructure to harsh environmental conditions to extreme weather events.

Prop. 5 will provide a consistent revenue stream to keep park facilities in good condition for all Texans to enjoy. Vote YES on Prop. 5 on November 5!

 


Story #3: Texas State Parks: By the Numbers


Texans love to visit their 95 state parks, and our state’s population continues to grow. Texas has 27 million people who gravitate to our parks seeking a respite from the city and a way to connect with the outdoors. State Park visitation is nearing 10 million visitors annually. Growing demand coupled with Texas’ growing population have put an even greater strain on a fragile system. Here are a few other numbers to consider:

  • 80% of Texas State Parks were developed more than 30 years ago.
  • Hurricane Harvey alone did $50 million in damage to our state parks.
  • 90% of the 491 restrooms in state parks are 30 years old or older, and 300 require removal or replacement.

Texans who love their state parks can help by voting YES on Prop. 5 on November 5. Learn more by reading this FAQ.

 

 
 

Story #4: Listen in on a Podcast with Park Champions

 

If approved by voters, Prop. 5 will permanently dedicate the proceeds from the Sporting Goods Sales Tax to state and local parks and historic sites. Park enthusiasts have been working to get this done for decades, and during this last Legislative Session Senator Lois Kolkhorst and Representative John Cyrier were able to finally get a bill passed. Now it’s up to Texas voters.

Listen in on a conversation with the two legislators and John Shepperd with the Texas Foundation for Conservation to learn more about why you should vote for Prop. 5 on November 5.

Listen

 



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