Dinosaur Valley Sate Park

Credit: J.Burkett Photo

Texas Parks, Landmarks Being Threatened By Lack Of Funding

January 31, 2019 - 6:43 am

By Chris Fox, KRLD Austin Bureau Chief

AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - State Senator Lois Kolkhorst and State Representative John Cyrier filed companion legislation to constitutionally dedicate revenue from the 'Sporting Good Sales Tax' to fund the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“As our state population grows, we must promote and protect our public parks and state historic sites. We can all agree that these special places are vital to our economy and to our Texas heritage, culture, and way of life,” said Senator Kolkhorst. “A reliable source of funding for state parks and historic sites is an investment in our future and a gateway to the outdoors for every Texan. This funding will allow maintenance, repairs and improvements to happen on a regular basis. Texans should not have to wait for days, weeks or months to gain entrance to these locations which are true Texas treasures.”

“The state park system that exists today was not built with the anticipation that 10 million visitors per year would utilize the parks,” said Representative Cyrier. “We have an obligation to ensure that future generations have access to these important outdoor spaces. The 86th Texas Legislature has an historic opportunity to make a lasting impact on our parks, creating stability for future planning and growth that will benefit all Texans.”

In 1993 lawmakers dedicated a portion of revenues derived from the sales tax on sporting goods. Between 1993 and 2017 the state collected nearly $2.5 billion in sporting goods tax revenues and only appropriated 40-percent of it to the parks.

The former chair of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Joseph Fitzsimons spearheaded the Texas Coalition for State Parks, a group of former commissioners and outdoor advocates focused on pursuing a constitutional dedication of the tax revenues. “Our state and local parks play a vital role in providing outdoor experiences to an increasingly urban state,” said Fitzsimons. “Our park system is aging, infrastructure is outdated and chronic underfunding has placed a strain on our system. A constitutional dedication of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax will meet current and future demands, and ensure all Texans can enjoy the great outdoors.”

The Texas Constitution provides that the legislature, by a two-thirds vote of all members of each house, may propose amendments revising the constitution and that proposed amendments must then be submitted for approval by the Texas voters.