Monthly Archives

September 2019

Vote in November to fund our state parks for future generations of Texans

Dmn

September 29, 2019
The Dallas Morning News | By Lois Kolkhorst|Contributor and John Cyrier|Contributor

Some of our families’ best summer adventures over the years have been at Texas’ state parks. And the numbers indicate that you and your family have probably enjoyed our parks and historic sites over the years, too: Nearly 10 million people visited state parks in 2017, up about 40 percent since 2012.

Texas is growing quickly. More people are visiting the parks than ever before, and we couldn’t be happier about it. However, this puts pressure on already-strained park infrastructure, much of which is ailing.

Altogether, our state parks sit on about 640,000 acres of land, much of which was first developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and ’40s. In the decades that followed, the infrastructure — roads, marinas, campgrounds, swimming pools, utility systems, sewage treatment, you name it — simply hasn’t kept up with 21st century demands.

For example, 91 percent of the 113 playgrounds are 30 years old or older, and 50 of those are in urgent need of replacement. And 90 percent of the 491 restroom facilities in the parks are over 30 years old, with 300 needing to be removed or replaced.

Now there’s something on which the Texas Legislature should take action, don’t you think?

We sure thought so. We love Texas’ state parks and want to preserve them for future generations of Texans to love and enjoy, too. And that’s why we worked hard this year to pass bipartisan legislation that would amend the Texas Constitution accordingly.

The next and final step is to put the issue before Texas voters in this November’s election. It’ll be Proposition 5 on the ballot.

Proposition 5 is a constitutional dedication of revenue from the existing sales tax so that those dollars can be used only by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to maintain public parks and historic sites, and not for any other purposes. (From 1993 to 2017, the state collected nearly $2.5 billion in revenue from the sporting goods sales tax, yet only 40 percent was appropriated for parks, with the rest used to fill in gaps elsewhere in the state budget.)

A yes vote on Proposition 5 on Nov. 5 will protect our natural areas and historic sites so that we don’t lose the very things that make Texas such a special place to live.

Make no mistake: Sustainable, consistent funding is the fiscally conservative and economically sound way to ensure our parks endure for years and years to come.

One very important thing to note: Proposition 5 results in no new taxes. None. Not now, not in the future. The taxes that businesses pay will not increase, nor will the sales taxes of individual Texans increase. One of the things that makes Texas such a great place to live and work is the low tax burden that drives growth and keeps government small. As fiscal conservatives, we believe we can achieve our goals and invest in what’s important simply by being smarter and more responsible with the state revenue that we already have.

Think of it as putting a little more truth in our taxation.

The Legislature has done its part, and so now the measure goes to the people. Surely we can all agree that these special places are vital to our economy and to our Texas heritage, culture and way of life.

Lois Kolkhorst is a Republican representing Brenham in the Texas Senate.

John Cyrier is a Republican representing Lockhart in the Texas House.

Source: https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2019/09/29/vote-in-november-to-fund-our-state-parks-for-future-generations-of-texans/

Texas voters have a historic opportunity to ensure consistent funding for State Parks and Historic Sites

Austin, Texas State Capitol

September 25, 2019
The Orange Leader

Six weeks from today, on November 5, Texans will head to the polls and vote in a constitutional amendment election. Voters will determine whether or not to pass Proposition 5, one of 10 on the ballot, which will create a dedicated stream of revenue to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. This is important for protecting Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history, and it is vital to our economy. It does not require new taxes or fees.

Funding for these sites has been historically inconsistent. In 1993, the Texas Legislature wisely worked to replace the 1970s and 1980s cigarette tax funding (a one-penny-per-pack tax on cigarettes) for state parks with a consistent stream of funding designated from a portion of the sales taxes collected from the sale of sporting goods, known as the Sporting Goods Sales Tax (SGST). Unfortunately, the funds have not consistently found their way to the parks. In fact, from 1993 to 2017, the state has collected nearly $2.5 billion in revenues from the SGST, yet only 40 percent has been appropriated for parks.

In 2019, the 86th Legislature, with the leadership of State Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and State Representative John Cyrier (R-Lockhart), took the important step to address this and preserve our state and local parks and historic sites for future generations. The near-unanimous passage of SJR 24 paved the way for Proposition 5 to be placed on the ballot this November.

“As our state population grows, we must promote and protect our public parks and state historic sites,” said Senator Kolkhorst. “We can all agree that these special places are vital to our economy and to our Texas heritage, culture, and way of life. 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.”

“For too long, state lawmakers have entrusted the hardworking leaders and personnel of our state parks system with a very important job, but did not give them the resources they needed to accomplish it,” said Representative Cyrier. “This amendment will change that and provide the funding system necessary to preserve these natural treasures for future generations.”

Proposition 5 is a constitutional dedication of revenue from the existing sales tax, so those dollars can only be used by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission on public parks and historic sites, and not for any other purposes. Importantly, Proposition 5 requires no new taxes or fees. A “YES” vote on Proposition 5 on November 5th will protect Texas’ natural areas and historic sites, so Texans do not lose the very things that make Texas a special place in which to live.

The ballot language of Proposition 5 is: “The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.”

The Texas Coalition for State Parks, was launched by a group of former Texas Parks & Wildlife Commissioners and park advocates with the sole purpose of advocating for a constitutional dedication of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax to state parks funding. The Texas Coalition for State Parks PAC was formed to engage voters ahead of the November 5, 2019 election and encourage them to support Proposition 5. More information can be found at www.SupportTexasParks.org.

A worthy amendment

Thomas Brushel 03mmxv9invi Unsplash

September 20, 2019
Longview News-Journal via Amarillo Globe-News

On Nov. 5, the public will decide the fate of 10 constitutional amendments.

Passage of Proposition 5 will ensure a dedicated stream of revenue to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. The measure is important for protecting and preserving the state’s numerous natural areas, water quality and history.

State parks and historical sites also provide an important boost to local economies. For example, Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyons saw almost half a million visitor days spent at the parks last year. According to estimates, nonlocal visitors spent almost $11 million on expenses ranging from food and lodging to recreational equipment.

… By way of background, the Texas Legislature in 1993 moved to create a consistent funding stream for state parks. It designated a portion of the sales tax collected from sporting goods sales. However, the sporting goods sales tax historically has not been used to fund state parks and historical sites.

Between 1993 and 2017, Texas collected $2.5 billion in sporting goods sales tax with only 40 percent of that amount allocated to parks as funds were diverted to other items and to help ensure a balanced state budget.

However, in the most recent legislative session, lawmakers almost unanimously approved Senate Joint Resolution 24, which put Proposition 5 on the ballot. …

We encourage voters to educate themselves about the recreational opportunities and economic impact of the state’s robust and diverse offering of parks and historical sites. Likewise, take time to learn about all of the constitutional propositions between now and November to ensure that every vote cast is an informed vote.

##

Source: https://www.news-journal.com/opinion/other-voices-what-texas-editors-are-saying/article_c899e816-d989-11e9-9364-23fc5d52d744.html

Our view: Proposition 5 will stabilize funding for state parks

Matt Brown I1pizssm7n8 Unsplash

September 18, 2019
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal | By AJ Media Editorial Board

Two West Texas recreational jewels, Palo Duro Canyon State Park east of Canyon, and Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway near Quitaque, will be among the beneficiaries if Proposition 5 on the upcoming constitutional amendment election is approved.

On Nov. 5, the public will decide the fate of 10 constitutional amendments. Passage of Proposition 5 will ensure a dedicated stream of revenue to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. The measure is important for protecting and preserving the state’s numerous natural areas, water quality and history.

State parks and historical sites also provide an important boost to local economies. For example, Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyons saw almost half a million visitor days spent at the parks last year. According to estimates, non-local visitors spent almost $11 million on expenses ranging from food and lodging to recreational equipment. In fact, total economic impact by the two parks was almost $12 million in 2018 – a significant increase from the estimated $8.5 million in 2014.

“The benefits of state parks are many,” George Bristol, former chairman of the state parks advisory committee said in a news release. “They add to the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of Texans and our visitors.”

By way of background, the Texas Legislature in 1993 moved to create a consistent funding stream for state parks. It designated a portion of the sales tax collected from sporting goods sales. However, the sporting goods sales tax historically has not been used to fund state parks and historical sites.

Between 1993 and 2017, Texas collected $2.5 billion in sporting goods sales tax with only 40 percent of that amount allocated to parks as funds were diverted to other items and to help ensure a balanced state budget.

However, in the most recent legislative session, lawmakers almost unanimously approved Senate Joint Resolution 24, which put Proposition 5 on the ballot. Instrumental in this action were Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. John Cyrier.

Proposition 5, which requires no new taxes or fees, is a constitutional dedication of revenue from the existing sales tax, meaning those dollars can only be used by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission on public parks and historic sites.

According to the chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, the state’s parks generated more than $891 million in sales activity and had a $240 million impact on the incomes of Texas residents and supported more than 6,000 jobs across the state last year.

“State parks like Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyons provide a significant public service by protecting and stewarding the state’s major natural and cultural resources,” said S. Reed Morian, commission chairman, in a news release.

The ballot language of Proposition 5 will read: “The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.”

We encourage voters to educate themselves about the recreational opportunities and economic impact of the state’s robust and diverse offering of parks and historical sites. Likewise, take time to learn about all of the constitutional propositions between now and November to ensure that every vote cast is an informed vote.

##

Source: https://www.lubbockonline.com/news/20190918/our-view-proposition-5-will-stabilize-funding-for-state-parks/1

Coalition advocating for Proposition 5

Devils River 8319

September 18, 2019
Del Rio News-Herald | By Atzimba Morales

A new proposition in the Nov. 5 election ballot is designated to create a dedicated stream of revenue to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission.

The revenue is important for protecting Texas’ natural areas, water quality and history and it is vital to the regional economy, according to a press release from the Texas Coalition for State Parks.

“State Parks provide a significant public service by protecting and stewarding the state’s major natural and cultural resources,” said S. Reed Morian, Chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

A recent survey conducted in 2019 for the Texas Parks and Wildlife showed that the Devils River, Seminole Canyon and Kickapoo Cavern State Parks are important regional economic contributors.

More than 33,983 visitor days were logged at the parks in 2018, of which 33,865 were from outside the region. Combined, the non-local visitors spent an estimated $728,837 on food, lodging and recreational equipment, according to the news release.

According to the release, the visitors’ expenses help support local businesses and creates jobs and tax revenue for the county.
George Bristol, Former Chairman of the State Parks Advisory Committee said, the benefits of state parks. State parks add to the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of Texans and visitors, but for communities hosting state parks, citizens can benefit from the positive economic impact.

In 1993, the Texas Legislature created a consistent funding system for state parks and designated a portion of sales tax collected from the sale of sporting goods, this is known as the Sporting Goods Sales Tax.

According to the news release, the funds have not consistently found their way to the parks. From 1993 to 2017, the state collected nearly $2.5 billion in revenue from the sporting goods sales tax, but only 40 percent has been appropriated for state parks.

“Funds were diverted for other purposes unrelated to parks and to balance the state budget,” according to the news release.

The approval of Proposition 5 will dedicate the revenue, collected from the existing sporting goods sales tax, to only be used by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission on public parks and historic sites, and not for any other purposes. There will be no increase in sales tax.

The ballot language of Proposition 5 is: “The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.”

According to the news release, polls taken over the last decade show 70 percent of Texans would support the amendment and permanent dedicate sporting goods sales tax to state and local parks and historic sites.

Pumping millions into Texas parks soon up to voters

5d3515aa4fd77.image

September 17, 2019
The Galveston County Daily News| By Keri Heath

Millions of dollars long siphoned for other projects could be invested in maintaining and improving Galveston Island State Park and others in Texas if voters approve a measure in November.

Sales tax on sporting goods sold in the Texas always has been intended for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, but all of the money hasn’t historically gone toward the park system.

Established in 1993, the tax applies to sporting goods sold within the state, and in 2018, generated an estimated $148.1 million, said Kevin Lyons, spokesman for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

But only $128.6 million went to Texas Parks & Wildlife last year, the state agency that oversees state parks, wildlife and habitat, Lyons said.

The amount of money collected on the tax is growing each year, and by 2022, when the proposed law would go into effect, could reach $175.3 million, Lyons said.

Although the tax money originally was meant to go to Texas Parks & Wildlife, the actual amount the department gets is determined each year by the Texas Legislature.

The decision to put it to voters has bipartisan support, said state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, who was one of the legislators who sponsored the resolution that created the proposition.

Texas voters will decide Nov. 5 on whether to pass the amendment.

“We can all agree that these special places are vital to our economy and to our heritage, culture and way of life,” Kolkhorst said. “This legislation passed with bipartisan support because it is about delivering more maintenance and improvements to these sites, which in turn adds capacity for more visitors.”

The sporting good tax makes up about 28 percent, $117.3 million, of the overall Texas Parks & Wildlife’s $419 million budget and 75 percent, $314.3 million, of the state parks division’s salary and operating budget, department spokeswoman Stephanie Garcia said.

As it stands, the sporting good sales tax supports administration, operations and capital improvements of state parks and grants for local cities and counties, Garcia said.

For Galveston, that means possibly more resources toward Galveston Island State Park, 14901 FM 3005, said Jennifer Swanson, spokeswoman for the Texas Coalition for State Parks.

“That will mean that 100 percent of the money that’s supposed to go to the parks will be going to the parks, which means future upkeep for future generations to enjoy,” Swanson said.

Better upkeep of the park means the area likely is to draw more visitors, she said.

In fiscal year 2018, the park attracted almost 96,000 day-trippers and almost 50,000 overnight visitors, according to a state department report released earlier this year.

Visitors who aren’t from Galveston and stayed for the day contributed $122 million to the local economy through shopping and other purchases, and people who stayed in the park overnight generated $27.6 million, according to the report.

Galveston Island State Park now is at the beginning of a lengthy $10 million redevelopment project that has the beach side of the park closed for three years.

##

Source: https://www.galvnews.com/news/article_ae53d0d7-d987-508d-b73a-5e86060796d7.html

Park super reveals details on Palo Pinto state park

Tucker

September 13, 2019
Weatherford Democrat | By Autumn Owens

Park Superintendent James Adams has started spreading the word about the construction expansion of the already named Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, and gave a presentation at the Native Plant Society’s Cross Timbers Chapter meeting Thursday night.

The state began purchasing land for the state park eight years ago and now with help from funding that was approved by the Texas Legislature, the 4,400-acre park is getting closer to a construction date.

“The timeline is very rough this early in the process, but we’re hoping to be able to start the roads as early as next August,” Adams said. “The funding methods for construction include $12.5 million that was appropriated by the legislature and then TxDOT covered the cost of building the roads and then the remaining $8 to $10 million is going to be funded through a partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. They are the non-profit partners of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.”

State parks and historical sites have received about 40 percent of all money generated by a tax on the sale os sporting goods, but that is changing after legislation was filed to allow the entities to received the maximum tax revenue of up to 94 percent. Voters will have to approve the constitutional amendment, which will be on the Nov. 5 ballot, but lawmakers have already earmarked $322 million from the tax revenue for state parks regardless of the election.

“James Adams gave a very good overview of the park’s status,” Native Plant Society Publicity Elizabeth Afflerbach said. “[The] November election — this is a tangential issue. There is a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would lock in allocations of the state sales tax on sporting goods primarily for parks. [Adams] can’t advocate for a political position, but he can explain it. The tax was originally supposed to go for parks, but the [legislature] sometimes kept it in the general fund.”

The new legislation was filed by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brehnam, and state Rep. John P. Cyrier, R-Lockhart.

“We want to ensure that every Texan can take advantage of our state’s great outdoors, and the state has a responsibility to provide for our state parks and historic sites,” Kolkhorst said in a Texas Tribune article. “This is truth in taxation, and it gives these agencies the ability to plan.”

Adams said the parks plans have gained a lot of momentum.

“Some of planned amenities that we’re going to have here include some water and electric camp sites, equestrian camp sites with water and electric, lakeside day-use facilities, ridge top day-use facilities, a rentable pavilion and several miles of multi-use trails,” Adams said. “The interest is such in this park that it’s almost like I don’t have to look for places to go speak. People just send me emails and call me because they want to hear about it, they’re excited about the park and they want to know all they can, and how they can help. It’s really an awesome thing to have folks so interested and so enthused about the park.”

Adams said people have coined a phrase of the park being the “Metroplexes playground,” but said it will be more than that.

“I think it will be, but it will be more than that, this site is going to attract folks from all over the state and I think it will be an amazing thing for the local economy and an amazing thing for the people to get to experience,” Adams said. “I’m from this area, I grew up in Mineral Wells, and I’ve worked in several regions of the state and this, to me, has always been one of the most beautiful parts of the state. You can be driving along [Interstate] 20 from Weatherford and then all of the sudden it’s like you’re in the Hill Country and folks just don’t think about it. They think about west of Fort Worth and think Abilene or Odessa where it’s flatter. I’m excited to be able to show that to folks that may not be familiar with it.”

The TPWD Foundation has set up a webpage for direct donations to Palo Pinto Mountains State Park and can be found by visiting tpwf.org.

##

Source: https://www.weatherforddemocrat.com/news/local_news/park-super-reveals-details-on-palo-pinto-state-park/article_c6deee1d-60a0-51f3-8c67-9970e678ff17.html

© 2019 Texas Coalition for State Parks. Political Ad by Texas Coalition for State Parks PAC.