In an increasingly urban state, Texas State Parks offer natural and recreational opportunities for over 28 million Texans and economic benefits for their communities. You can visit Caddo Lake State Park for some canoeing, McKinney Falls State Park for some camping, Estero Llano Grand State Park for some bird watching, Balmorhea State Park to jump off the diving board, or Franklin Mountains State Park for a trail run (see photos on the right). Myself and 10 million visitors enjoyed Texas’s 95 state parks in 2017 alone. But our state parks are increasingly experiencing deferred maintenance that affects our ability to enjoy these special places. From repairs needed due to wildfire or hurricane damage to needs for infrastructure to accommodate increased visitation, our state parks have over $781 million in deferred maintenance.
The Sporting Goods Sales Tax was designed to fix this problem. Passed in 1993, it allowed up to 94% of the sporting goods sales tax to go to Texas Parks and Wildlife and 6% to the Texas Historical Commission. However, from 1993 to 2017 of the $2.5 billion raised from the tax, only about $1 billion went to state parks. Remember those deferred maintenance needs? If the entire sporting goods sales tax actually went to Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Historical Commission, then the current maintenance needs would already have been taken care of.
What can you do?
On November 5, Texans will vote on Proposition 5, a constitutional amendment that, if passed, will dedicate 100% of the sporting goods sales tax to the Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Historical Commission, providing a reliable and sustained source of funding – without increasing taxes!
So, if you love our Texas parks and want to see them get the funding they need to provide places to hike, camp, fish, bike, canoe, kayak, bird, nap, sit, swim, and, in any other way, enjoy the nature of Texas please vote yes on November 5!!