Monthly Archives

October 2019

Explained: Proposition 5 on state parks and historical sites funding

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October 31, 2019
KWTX | By Ke’Sha Lopez

Proposition 5 calls for the use of revenue from state sales tax on sporting goods to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission.

The goal is to protect state and local natural areas, water quality, and historical sites.

Local parks like Meridian State Park, Mother Neff State Park, Fort Parker State Park, and Lake Whitney State Park would benefit.

Proposition 5 would makes sure that all the money intended for Parks and Wildlife be used on Parks and Wildlife and for no other purpose, unless a 2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate change that.

In the past, only a portion of the sporting goods sales tax revenue was used to support the parks.

Not all of it.

Supporters say, money intended to support this area has historically been diverted for other uses.

Opponents say, the amendment would limit the legislature’s flexibility, if there are areas with more pressing needs.

So a vote yes, means money already intended to support state parks and historical sites is used only for this specific purpose.

A vote no, does not guarantee sporting goods sales tax is used as the voters directed.

Source: https://www.kwtx.com/content/news/Explained-Proposition-5-on-state-parks-and-historical-sites-funding-564158541.html

Money for Texas’ Ailing Parks System Is Up to Voters

Lighthouse Peak

October 31, 2019
Courthouse News Service | By Travis Bubenik

Most summers in far west Texas, the small farming community of Balmorhea transforms into a tourist hot spot as travelers flock across the sprawling Chihuahuan Desert to one of the state’s most beloved spring-fed swimming holes. But in 2018, the summer season was canceled.

That was the year erosion damage was discovered inside the pool at Balmorhea State Park, forcing a months-long closure that frustrated visitors and locals alike. Though the pool reopened in time for summer this year, the entire park soon closed again so its outdated septic system could be fixed.

The open-and-closed-again saga in Balmorhea has become something of a case study in what happens when parks are left with inadequate funding and problems pile up.

Outdoors advocates say it’s a situation that could be avoided in the future, if Texas voters on Tuesday approve a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ensure a more reliable funding stream for parks.

“This park, because of deferred maintenance, it really has gone for a very long time and just limped along,” Carolyn Rose, superintendent of the Balmorhea Park, said in an interview.

The parks system in Texas has become straddled with an estimated $800 million maintenance backlog, due largely to the way lawmakers have chosen to allocate funding.

Under state law, tax revenue from sporting goods sales is supposed to be sent to the parks department and the state historical commission. But through the years, lawmakers have directed only a portion of that revenue to those entities, using the rest for other purposes.

Complicating matters further, the allocated amounts have fluctuated from one legislative session to the next.

“You might think, ‘OK, this next year we’re going to work on this particular project,’ and then, ‘Oh, no, we didn’t get the funding,’” Rose said.

In Balmorhea, the park closures have been more than just an inconvenience.

Even as oil drilling has rapidly expanded around the town in recent years, some businesses still rely on the tourist dollars the pool attracts.

At El Oso Flojo (Lazy Bear) Lodge in Balmorhea, owner Joel Madrid said he’s hoping to add new rock landscaping around the irrigation canal that runs in front of the lodge, carrying the same spring water that feeds the pool.

Children play in the canals, he said, so he wants to make them safer. But the park closures have hurt his bottom line, even in the off-season.

“We’ve had [scuba] divers here when it’s been snowing,” Madrid said. “It definitely has taken a toll on us.”

While the lodge fills with oilfield workers during the week, Madrid still depends on tourists coming in for the weekends.

“The pool’s going to carry us,” he said. “It’ll be there when the oilfield is long gone.”

The proposal on the Tuesday ballot could help ensure a more stable future for the Balmorhea pool and parks like it.

Proposition 5 would mandate that sporting goods tax revenue be dedicated to parks and historic sites, though lawmakers could still decide to move the money elsewhere with a two-thirds vote of both legislative houses.

The proposal hasn’t drawn much pushback in Republican-controlled Texas. Two Republican lawmakers sponsored bills that led to the amendment being placed on the ballot. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also supports for the idea.

“There’s got to be a consistency, not just an increase in funding, but a consistency in funding,” said George Bristol, a longtime Texas political operative and parks advocate who supports the proposition.

“We’ve literally had a year where we got $25-30 million in maintenance money, and the next year we got zero,” he said. “That’s no way to run anything.”

Rose, the Balmorhea superintendent, said a more reliable funding stream would allow her to tackle repairs sooner, before they become a major headache, and to think about the park’s longer-term needs.

“I feel like it will keep what happened before from happening again,” she said.

Source: https://www.courthousenews.com/money-for-texas-ailing-parks-system-is-up-to-voters/

Here’s why Texas Proposition 5 is a win for parks and people

Mustang Island Fishing

October 31, 2019
Corpus Christi Caller-Times | By Barbara Canales, Nueces County Judge

Every Texas voter has a unique opportunity on Tuesday, Nov. 5, to support Texas parks and historical sites by voting “yes” on Proposition 5. If passed, Proposition 5 will direct current sales tax revenues on sporting goods solely to fund Texas parks and historical sites without raising any new taxes or fees.

In 1993 Texas lawmakers passed a law to fund the upkeep and expansion of parks and historical sites. However, most of the money was diverted to the state’s general fund for other uses. Less than half of the $2.4 billion in sporting goods sales taxes collected between 1993 and 2017 was allocated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or the Texas Historical Commission.

This year, a strong bipartisan legislative majority agreed that Texas voters deserved the chance to assure that state parks and Texas historical sites receive all of the funding originally intended.

Proposition 5 would add language to the Texas Constitution to dedicate revenue from the sales tax on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. Funding derived from Prop 5 would protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites — again, while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.

Here in Nueces County, parks have both direct and intangible benefits such as attracting coastal tourism and maintaining clean water supplies for Corpus Christi and her sister cities in the Coastal Bend.

A recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department report, “The Economic Contribution of Texas State Parks” notes the positive impact parks have on our economy. According to the report, economic activity from park visitation statewide generated an “estimated $891 million in sales; $688 million in output; $426 million in value added; $240 million impact on residents’ income; and accounted for an estimated 6,801 jobs, paying an average salary of $35,320 per year.”

As Texas’ No. 1 Gulf Coast tourist destination, Nueces County deserves its share of those economic benefits and full, dedicated parks funding will more adequately meet the needs of facility maintenance, upkeep and the expansion of our parks and historical sites.

Supporters of constitutionally dedicated parks funding point out that Texas is increasingly an urban state in terms of where people live, while most of rural Texas is privately owned. There are only 640,000 acres of state parkland (1,000 square miles) which is less than one half of one percent of Texas’ 261,914 square miles, and last year 10 million people visited Texas’ state parks.

Dedicated state parks funding through passage of Proposition 5 will enable generations of urban dwellers to connect with the land and understand what it means to be a Texan. In addition to parks funding for outdoor recreation, the benefit to Texas historical sites is icing on the cake for native-born Texans and newcomers alike.

Texas’ lands and our unique history can and should be unifying influences as the Lone Star State exceeds 30 million people in the 2020 census. Please strongly consider voting for Proposition 5.

Barbara Canales is the Nueces County Judge. She submitted this guest column to the Caller-Times, unsolicited.

Source: https://www.caller.com/story/opinion/2019/10/31/texas-proposition-5-win-parks-people-constitutional-election/4102308002/

Proposition 5 to help lack of funding for state parks in desperate need of repair

Rivard Report

October 28, 2019
KTXS 12 | By SBG San Antonio Staff Reports

Voters in San Antonio and across the state only have five more days if they want to vote early on 10 constitutional amendments. One of those amendments aims at getting consistent funding for our state parks.

Proposition 5 should help with the chronic lack of funding for projects to improve and repair things in our state parks. This amendment has a lot of support from Governor Greg Abbott and other state officials.

According to the Texas Wildlife Association, there is $750 million in deferred maintenance for our state parks.

Since 1993, funding for state parks comes from sales tax and sporting good stores, but the percentage of how much money they get varies from year to year. Basically, there is a loophole sending that money to other programs.

“That infrastructure is not only deteriorating but it wasn’t contemplated of a population that has risen to the level that it is today,” said David Yeates, CEO of the Texas Wildlife Association.

This amendment would make sure 100% of that money goes directly to state parks. Most of our state parks are anywhere from 40 to 80 years old and some need desperate help, especially for older roadways and buildings like visitor centers and restrooms.

“This is a really amazing opportunity, it’s not a tax, it’s a constitutional amendment that will create funding for the parks that we love,” said Anna Farrell Sherman with Environment Texas.

There are a number of state parks around the San Antonio area, including Government Canyon State Park, which is important for recharging our aquifer and also offers more than 40 miles of hiking trails.

The San Antonio Missions are part of the National Park System so this funding would not go to those parks.

Source: https://ktxs.com/news/texas/proposition-5-to-help-lack-of-funding-for-state-parks-in-desperate-need-of-repair

Proposition 5 to help lack of funding for state parks in desperate need of repair

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October 28, 2019
News 4 San Antonio | By SBG San Antonio Staff Reports

Voters in San Antonio and across the state only have five more days if they want to vote early on 10 constitutional amendments. One of those amendments aims at getting consistent funding for our state parks.

Proposition 5 should help with the chronic lack of funding for projects to improve and repair things in our state parks. This amendment has a lot of support from Governor Greg Abbott and other state officials.

According to the Texas Wildlife Association, there is $750 million in deferred maintenance for our state parks.

Since 1993, funding for state parks comes from sales tax and sporting good stores, but the percentage of how much money they get varies from year to year. Basically, there is a loophole sending that money to other programs.

“That infrastructure is not only deteriorating but it wasn’t contemplated of a population that has risen to the level that it is today,” said David Yeates, CEO of the Texas Wildlife Association.

This amendment would make sure 100% of that money goes directly to state parks. Most of our state parks are anywhere from 40 to 80 years old and some need desperate help, especially for older roadways and buildings like visitor centers and restrooms.

“This is a really amazing opportunity, it’s not a tax, it’s a constitutional amendment that will create funding for the parks that we love,” said Anna Farrell Sherman with Environment Texas.

There are a number of state parks around the San Antonio area, including Government Canyon State Park, which is important for recharging our aquifer and also offers more than 40 miles of hiking trails.

The San Antonio Missions are part of the National Park System so this funding would not go to those parks.

Source: https://news4sanantonio.com/news/local/proposition-5-to-help-lack-of-funding-for-state-parks-in-desperate-need-of-repair

Proposition 5 Can Help Provide Funding on State Parks in the Valley

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October 28, 2019
KRGV | By Monica De Anda

State parks around Texas, including four in the Rio Grande Valley, could see steady funding but it’s up to voters to decide next Tuesday.

Proposition 5 is one of 10 proposals on the November 5 ballot. It would guarantee funding to state parks to help with park maintenance.

Estero Llano Grande State Park is one of 80 state parks in Texas.

“There’s a list of about $800 million worth of repairs for state parks throughout the state,” explained Javier de Leon, park superintendent at Estero Llano Grande State Park.

He added, “The way it is right now we defer a lot of projects and with this proposition if it passes it could speed up the process.”

De Leon says without steady funding these repairs aren’t always taken care of.

Prop. 5 is not a new tax; it would essentially amend a sales tax that has been around since 1993.

Watch the video for the full story.

Source: http://www.krgv.com/news/proposition-5-can-help-provide-funding-on-state-parks-in-the-valley

Opinion: Prop. 5 Will Keep Texas Parks Open for Everyone

Government Canyon 4577

October 28, 2019
Austin American-Statesman | By Joseph Fitzsimons

On November 5, Texans can help protect the heritage and character of Texas by voting yes for Proposition 5. The great Texas naturalist Roy Bedichek once wrote that outdoor living slows and softens us, quieting our nerves and steadying our minds. Couldn’t we all use a little more calm these days?

Texas is an urban state. Roughly 90 percent of Texans live in metropolitan areas. As more and more people move to the Lone Star state, fewer new Texas have access to the outdoors. Today, over 95 percent of Texas’s land is privately owned.

More Texans are having to go farther to find real wilderness — and the peace of mind that comes with it.

The good news, for those seeking respite from their metropolitan bubbles, is that Texas has some of the most beautiful and coveted state parks anywhere, and we have an opportunity in November to preserve, protect and enhance them for future generations.

All told, there are 95 state parks and historical sites across Texas, each one doing its part to preserve our natural environment and instill in Texans a love and appreciation of the great outdoors — an intrinsic piece of Texas heritage, culture and way of life.

The bad news is that Texas parks and historic sites have been chronically underfunded for decades. There is a more than $800 million backlog of deferred maintenance projects across the state. And with so many millions of visitors each year, the already outdated infrastructure is becoming strained. Currently, the parks welcome over 10 million visitors each year.

Though it’s encouraging that so many Texans and visitors want to experience and enjoy these natural treasures, it also leaves us with a clear charge. If we are to meet growing demand and ensure future generations can enjoy the great outdoors, we must commit to invest in the parks and we must do it now. Specifically, the park system needs a dedicated stream of funding. That is exactly what Proposition 5 will do.

The constitutional amendment (one of 10 on the ballot this fall) will dedicate revenue from the Sporting Goods 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 — all without imposing any new taxes or fees. It would be a permanent, dedicated stream of funding that would sustain the parks for years to come.

A YES vote on Prop. 5 on Nov. 5 will protect Texas’s natural areas and historic sites, so we don’t lose the very things that make Texas a special place to live. Generations of Texans have worked and enjoyed the land. It’s part of our culture, our way of life and our traditions. For this to continue, the next generation of Texans will need to have a deep appreciation for our roots, including our natural environment.

Let’s make sure they have the same access and opportunity to enjoy our land and heritage, so that, to borrow Bedichek’s words, “a thousand years from now, friends such as we will wander over these same hills inhaling the same scents and feasting their eyes upon the same beauty.”

Let’s preserve what’s important. Vote YES on Prop. 5.

Fitzsimons is the former chair of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission, and the co-founder of the Texas Coalition for State Parks

Source: https://www.statesman.com/opinion/20191028/opinion-prop-5-will-keep-texas-parks-open-for-everyone

Final Week of Early Voting in November 5 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election Kicks Off Today

American And Texas Flags Flying At The Texas State Capitol Building In Austin

October 28, 2019
Gilmer Mirror

Registered Texans can early vote until November 1st .

WHAT: For Texans, the final week of early voting in the constitutional amendment election this fall continues from Monday, October 28 through Friday, November 1. Those interested in voting on the 10 items on the statewide ballot can find out where they can cast their ballots as well as information on Proposition 5 by visiting the links on the Texas Coalition for State Parks’ elections page at: https://www.supporttexasparks.org/election/.

WHEN: Monday, October 28, 2019 to November 1, 2019 – Final week of early voting!

WHERE: For more information, visit: https://www.votetexas.gov/index.html

INTERVIEW: Representatives from the Texas Coalition for State Parks are available for interviews to explain the importance of voting YES on this Proposition.

WHY PROP 5: Proposition 5 is an amendment that will ensure there will be funding to protect Texas water quality, natural areas, beaches, and wildlife, so that our children and grandchildren and future generations can enjoy them the same way we do. 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. Importantly, Proposition 5 requires no new taxes or fees.

Editorial pages across the state, including the Abilene Reporter News, Austin American-Statesman, Austin Chronicle, Beaumont Enterprise, Corpus Christi Caller Times, El Paso Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, Longview News-Journal, Lubbock Avalanche Journal, Lufkin Daily News, San Antonio Express News, The Eagle, The Uvalde Leader, Waco Tribune-Herald, and more, have expressed their support for Proposition 5.

About the Texas Coalition for State Parks:

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 has 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.

Source: http://www.gilmermirror.com/view/full_story/27675857/article-FINAL-WEEK-OF-EARLY-VOTING-IN-NOVEMBER-5-TEXAS-CONSTITUTIONAL-AMENDMENT-ELECTION-KICKS-OFF-TODAY?instance=home_news_bullets

Proposition 5 to help lack of funding for state parks in desperate need of repair

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October 28, 2019
Fox San Antonio

Voters in San Antonio and across the state only have five more days if they want to vote early on 10 constitutional amendments. One of those amendments aims at getting consistent funding for our state parks.

Proposition 5 should help with the chronic lack of funding for projects to improve and repair things in our state parks. This amendment has a lot of support from Governor Greg Abbott and other state officials.

According to the Texas Wildlife Association, there is $750 million in deferred maintenance for our state parks.

Since 1993, funding for state parks comes from sales tax and sporting good stores, but the percentage of how much money they get varies from year to year. Basically, there is a loophole sending that money to other programs.

“That infrastructure is not only deteriorating but it wasn’t contemplated of a population that has risen to the level that it is today,” said David Yeates, CEO of the Texas Wildlife Association.

This amendment would make sure 100% of that money goes directly to state parks. Most of our state parks are anywhere from 40 to 80 years old and some need desperate help, especially for older roadways and buildings like visitor centers and restrooms.

“This is a really amazing opportunity, it’s not a tax, it’s a constitutional amendment that will create funding for the parks that we love,” said Anna Farrell Sherman with Environment Texas.

There are a number of state parks around the San Antonio area, including Government Canyon State Park, which is important for recharging our aquifer and also offers more than 40 miles of hiking trails.

The San Antonio Missions are part of the National Park System so this funding would not go to those parks.

Source: https://foxsanantonio.com/news/local/proposition-5-to-help-lack-of-funding-for-state-parks-in-desperate-need-of-repair

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