Dear Friends in Conservation,
I’m happy to report a very successful 86th legislative session. First and foremost, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission received the full appropriation of Sporting Goods Sales Tax (SGST) used to maintain state and local parks. This is the sales tax collected on sporting goods, and is not a new tax.
In addition, Texans will have the opportunity to permanently dedicate this source of funding by voting in favor of a constitutional amendment on the November 2019 ballot.
As you may know, funding for state and local parks is currently subject to the appropriations process, which means a significant amount of the money is often withheld by the Legislature to certify the budget.
There are multiple reasons to support the constitutional amendment. Land in Texas is 96% privately owned, and state parks provide important public access to the outdoors. In many cases, state parks are the gateway to the outdoors for Texans.
We have almost 10 million visitors annually to state parks resulting in substantial wear and tear on infrastructure, particularly in the popular parks near urban areas. At the same time, state parks suffer from hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance exacerbated by nature disasters.
Developing a new state park is a multi-year process, which is almost impossible with an uncertain funding stream. And finally, dedication of these funds improves transparency in government spending.
John Shepperd, Texas Foundation for Conservation email@example.com or 210-823-8002