Texas State Parks will now get a steady stream of income thanks to the overwhelming support of Proposition 5. Texans voted on Tuesday in support of Proposition 5 which is a state constitutional amendment. The entire amount of Sporting Good Sales Tax will be used by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission on public parks and historic sites. The revenue will be used for maintenance and long-term planning of state parks and historic sites. This allows the state to not raise taxes or require additional fees from residents.
Portions of the sales tax was previously allocated to state parks, but with the passing of the new amendment, the entire fund will go to the parks and the historical commission. The Texas Historical Commission never received funding from the tax before.
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.
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. (Texas Coalition for State Parks, 2019)
For Texans, the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming constitutional amendment election this fall is Monday, October 7, 2019, as voters must submit their voter registration at least 30 days before the election date. Those interested in voting on ballot items on November 5, 2019 can find out if they are registered to vote in the state, how to register if not, and discover where they can cast their ballots by visiting the links on the Texas Coalition for State Parks’ elections page.
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. This Proposition requires no new taxes or fees. A “YES” vote on Proposition 5 on November 5 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.
“As our state population grows, we must promote and protect our public parks and state historic sites. 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.” – State Senator Lois Kolkhorst
“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. This amendment will change that and provide the funding system necessary to preserve these natural treasures for future generations.” – State Representative John Cyrier
Odessa American | By Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, Rep. John Cyrier
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 — from roads, to 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 state 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 only be used 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.
Voters have until Monday to register to vote in November election Texas voters have until Monday, Oct. 7 to register to vote in the upcoming CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT election set for Nov. 5. Ten propositions will be on the ballot for Texas voters. In order to appear on the ballot, the proposed amendments must be approved by at least two-thirds of the members of both the Texas Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. The future of Texas is and will always be in the hands of Texans, said Deputy Secretary Jose Esparza. This fall, voters will have the opportunity to directly impact the Texas Constitution, and I strongly encourage all eligible Texans to register to vote so that they can actively participate in shaping the future of the Lone Star State. Voters must submit their voter registration at least 30 days before the election date. Those interested in voting on ballot items on Nov. 5, can find out if they are registered to vote in the state, how to register if not, and discover where they can cast their ballots by visiting the links on the TEXAS COALITION FOR STATE PARKS elections page at: https://www.supporttexasparks.org/election/