October 12, 2019
The Eagle | By Steve Fletcher
In Texas, the state legislature is allowed to appropriate revenue from the sales tax (6.25%) on sporting goods to the state Parks and Wildlife Department and the state Historical Commission. According to the Texas Senate Research Center, “the actual appropriation is often much less than the [estimated revenue].”
A vote of “Yes” on proposition 5 this coming November would add language to the Texas Constitution dedicating revenue from the sales tax on sporting goods to the state Parks and Wildlife Department and the state Historical Commission. Whereas the current law allows the Legislature to allocate the revenue for other uses, Proposition 5 would require a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber to reduce the amount for the parks, wildlife, and historical agencies. Furthermore, the ballot measure would prohibit the Legislature from decreasing the amount for the parks, wildlife, and historical agencies by more than 50 percent.
This is not a new tax or a tax increase. It is honoring the sentiment of the bill’s original authors: supporting funding of our great state’s parks and the rich resources they afford. Since 1993, less than 40% of the sporting goods tax has made its way back to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department — the rest usurped into the “general fund.”
As a proportion of total land, Texas has the lowest availability of nature-based recreation opportunities in the country. With our population growth, these opportunities are becoming increasingly important but increasingly scarce. Their availability has implications for the well-being of all; our children, the planet and the seemingly insignificant (but vitally important) critters that keep our world functioning.
For the good of all, please vote this November and vote “yes” on proposition 5.