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.