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.
Voters approving Proposition 5 during elections Tuesday means a more predictable level of yearly funding for two state agencies.
“It was definitely allocated strangely,” voter Amanda Horne said of the previous funding system for Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Historical Commission.
In 1993, the Texas Legislature voted to allow all tax money from sporting goods sales go to Texas Parks and Wildlife. But it was up to lawmakers to determine how much of that money the agency actually received each budget cycle, and often they diverted a good portion of that pool to other means. Proposition 5 changes that to the delight of Horne.
“I’m an avid outdoorsman here in the State of Texas, and I just want to make sure our parks are funded to the fullest extend that they can be,” she said.
The new system promises Texas Parks and Wildlife 93 percent of all tax money from sales of sporting goods. The remaining 7 percent will go to the Texas Historical Commission which hadn’t previously received that kind of funding.
“Proposition Five is wonderful,” Bart Wales of Texas Tropical Trail Region said.
Wales’ organization promotes tourism in South Texas, in part, by promoting historical sites.
The Fulton Mansion is one such site, and it’s run by the Texas Historical Commission.
“Since the Texas Historical Commission has taken (the Fulton Museum) on it has become just a focal point for South Texas and showcasing its history,” Wales said.
The funding will help both agencies maintain parks and historical sites — something else Horne is happy to hear.
“There are so many beautiful places to visit here,” she said.
A local state park will finally have a chance to get consistent funding for repairs, thanks to Texas voters passing Proposition 5.
The proposition will add an amendment to the state constitution that dedicates revenue from sales tax on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission for Public Parks and Historic Sites.
Janice Bezanson, Executive Director of the Texas Conservation Alliance, told 6 News that the amendment will make a huge difference for state parks.
“The beauty of prop 5 is the consistency it creates,” Bezanson said. “When the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department never knew from one biennium to the next how much money they were going to have in the next term, they couldn’t plan or initiate capital projects.”
The Texas legislature has been able to allocate sales tax to sporting goods to Texas parks and historic sites since 1993. The legislature was able to choose how much of the money was allocated every two years. However,only 40 percent of the money has made it to the parks and historic sites since it became available.
Bezanson said Texas parks and historic sites could now see a consistent $150 million every year.
When a log jam developed at Mother Neff State Park in Central Texas around 2014, Texas Parks and Wildlife spent years searching for a funding source for the then estimated $220,000 project. They eventually had to work with the National Resource Conservation Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund the project.
The campsite next to that river still needs to be reconstructed. Silt left by flooding needs to be removed, dying trees need to be cut down and buildings need to be restored. But because of the new amendment, funding will be easier to come by.
“Repairing and constructing buildings is a complicated process that requires assessment, taking bids,” Bezanson said. “The long term consistency of funding is therefore very important.”
Benzanson told 6 News there is a backlog of park improvement projects across the state of Texas totaling around $800 million, so the additional revenue will be sorely needed.
“They will be able to plan, and execute a long term gameplan,” Bezanson said.
Constitutional dedication of Sporting Goods Sales Tax passes
For Immediate Release November 5, 2019
AUSTIN—Today, Texans voted overwhelmingly in support of Proposition 5, a constitutional dedication of revenue from the Sporting Good 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. This amendment 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. It will also create a consistent stream of revenue for the maintenance and long-term planning of state parks and historic sites. Importantly, Proposition 5 will provide the funding to achieve these goals without raising taxes or requiring additional fees.
“Tonight, the people of Texas sent a clear message that our state parks and historic sites matter, and they are a vital part of our heritage,” said State Rep. John Cyrier, Chairman of the Culture, Recreation & Tourism Committee in the Texas House. “I was proud to carry the Legislation that put this issue in front of Texas voters. Prop. 5 will ensure that current and future Texans will have the opportunity to enjoy the rich history and culture that our state parks and historic sites afford.”
“Texans have demonstrated their love of our state parks and historic sites with a resounding vote of YES in favor of Proposition 5. The passage of this proposition is important for maintaining, protecting and preserving the land in Texas that’s available for public enjoyment. This proposition was designed to create a positive impact on our environment, our culture and our way of life. The dedicated revenue for our parks and historic sites will ensure these Texas treasures are around for future generations to cherish and enjoy,” said Joseph Fitzsimons, founder of the Texas Coalition for State Parks.
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.
November 4, 2019 Austin American-Statesman | By American-Statesman Editorial Board
Your voice matters. Please use it Tuesday at the ballot box.
The issues being decided in this election touch our lives: State funding for schools, state parks and cancer research; as well as the use of taxes paid by hotel guests to improve the Austin Convention Center and the Travis County Exposition Center, both of which could bring more visitors and spending to our economy. With one question on the ballot you can even make life easier for retiring police dogs and their caretakers.
Here is a recap of the American-Statesman Editorial Board’s recommendations on the propositions facing voters, with links to the full editorials on each topic.
State constitutional amendments
Vote FOR Prop 1 to allow municipal judges to serve multiple cities at once if voters elect them to the bench. This would help smaller towns that don’t need their own full-time judge.
Vote FOR Prop 2 to allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue up to $200 million in general obligation bonds to help local governments build and improve water supply and sewer services.
Vote FOR Prop 3 to allow residents in a disaster area to be exempt from some or all property taxes for that year.
Vote AGAINST Prop 4, a measure that would make it even harder to impose a state income tax, something that is already very unlikely. This measure’s flawed wording could allow courts to kill the business franchise tax, which raises billions of dollars for public education and other programs.
Vote FOR Prop 5 to guarantee all sales tax revenue from sporting goods purchases would go toward maintaining state parks and historic sites — something lawmakers have long promised and largely failed to do.
Vote FOR Prop 6 to allow the Legislature to issue another $3 billion in general obligation bonds to fund cancer research and prevention, an effort that is saving lives and generating economic activity for Texas.
Vote FOR Prop 7 to allow two agencies — the State Land Board and the State Board of Education — to put more of their investment income into a fund that supports school districts.
Vote FOR Prop 8 to create a $793 million fund to finance local flood drainage, mitigation and control projects.
Vote FOR Prop 9 to ensure precious metals stored at a bullion depository will be exempt from property taxes. No jurisdiction charges such taxes now; keeping it that way will prevent these investments from going out of state.
Vote FOR Prop 10 to let law enforcement officers adopt their police dog when the animal retires, cutting through red tape that currently requires a third party to facilitate such adoptions.
Vote FOR Prop A to allow the county to collect a 2-cent portion of the hotel tax to revamp the Travis County Exposition Center, once Austin is done with the tax. An upgraded Expo Center could be an economic catalyst for a part of Travis County that has been neglected for too long.
City of Austin
Vote AGAINST Prop A, a measure requiring voter approval of any lease of city property for a sports or entertainment venue, and requiring that venue to pay property taxes. Sparked by critics’ concerns over last year’s Major League Soccer stadium deal, Prop A could create costly unintended consequences for nonprofit arts and community recreation facilities, such as the Long Center and the YMCA, that lease city land.
Vote AGAINST Prop B, a measure to dramatically reduce the amount of hotel tax revenue supporting the Austin Convention Center and require a public vote before a major expansion. Austin already puts the maximum hotel tax dollars allowed to cultural arts and historic attractions. Prop B can’t deliver more funding to such projects, but it would block a Convention Center expansion that would bring more revenue to Austin.
Vote FOR Prop A, a $412 million bond for about a dozen road projects, including road widening projects and intersection improvements.
Vote FOR Prop B, a $35 million bond for parks improvements, including new trails, restrooms and picnic pavilions.
Both are worthy sets of projects for fast-growing Williamson County. Voters should know, however, there is a cost. The county won’t raise its debt service tax rate to pay for Prop A and B bonds. As homes increase in value, though, that same tax rate will produce a larger bill for property owners.
November 4, 2019 Wichita Falls Times Record | By Claire Kowalick
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, and Texans have a chance to vote on a proposition that would dedicate funds to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC)
State Constitutional amendment, Proposition 5, would cement an agreement already in place in Texas.
Without any new taxes or raising taxes, Proposition 5 would constitutionally dedicate a portion of state sales tax on sporting goods in Texas to go to the TPWD and THC. The funds would be split 93 percent for TPWD and 7 percent to the THC.
The sporting good sales tax (SGST) is already collected on sporting goods in the state.
Dedicating these funds ensures a reliable and predictable source of income for these agencies to continue to support the state’s natural and historic treasures.
If approved, this funding could be used to help build and open previously undeveloped areas owned by TPWD, like the Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area between Kendall and Bandera County; Davis Hill State Park in Liberty County; Chinati Mountains State Natural Area in Presidio County; Dan A. Hughes Unit of Devils River State Natural Area in Val Verde County and acreage adjacent to the Powderhorn Wildlife Management Area in Calhoun County, slated to be transferred to TPWD for future development as a state park.
The SGST has already helped fund many repair and improvement projects within the Texas State Park System including a new visitors’ centers at Mission Tejas State Park and Franklin Mountains State Park; new cabins at Fort Boggy State Park; restroom and wastewater treatment plant replacement at Garner State Park; replacement of restrooms at Caddo Lake State Park and repairs to the dam at Huntsville State Park.
A list of on-going and completed repair and improvement projects at state parks across Texas can be found online at http://texasstateparks.org/brighterfuture.
For more information on the Nov. 5 election, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s website at https://www.votetexas.gov.
November 2, 2019 The Rivard Report | By Annalisa Peace
San Antonians should pay close attention to two propositions on the ballot for the Nov. 5 statewide election.
Proposition 5 calls for a constitutional amendment requiring money from sporting goods sales tax in the state to be used only for Texas state parks and historic sites. Proposition 8 calls for a “constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.”
If you are a lover of the great outdoors, you may have noticed that Texas’ state parks are getting a bit worse for the wear. For example, the bathrooms at Guadalupe State Park have been out of order for some time now. Chronic underfunding has placed a strain on maintaining infrastructure in our state parks.
In 1993 Texas authorized a tax on sporting goods to go toward a fund to support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Since then, the state collected nearly $2.5 billion in revenues from the sporting goods sales tax, yet only 40 percent of that amount has been appropriated for parks.
A vote for Proposition 5 will mandate that the State of Texas devote 100 percent of the sporting goods tax funds to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to be used for capital improvements and maintenance for parks and historical landmarks, and to purchase land for new parks and trails. Proposition 5 will not increase the amount of sporting goods taxes – it will just ensure that these taxes are to be spent as originally intended.
Longtime San Antonians will recall all too many occasions when rainfalls in the amount of 8-15 inches fell in a few hours, causing rivers to rise 11-15 feet in some cases. If you’ve recently moved to San Antonio, you may not know that you now reside in Flash Flood Alley, a region of Central Texas designated by the National Weather Service as the most flash flood prone region in North America, leading in the number of flash and river flooding-related deaths annually.
Proposition 8 will allocate $739 million to be used for planning, seeking permits for, or constructing flood-related projects. This flood infrastructure fund will require no new taxes or bonds as money will come, appropriately enough, from a one-time distribution from the State’s rainy day fund, which currently stands at $11 billion dollars. The fund would be distributed to local governments through loans or, in some cases, grants. As loans are repaid, money would become available for new projects.
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance and our allies across the state have been working hard to ensure that the funding will be administered equitably and used wisely. Thanks to concerted efforts, green infrastructure, and opportunities to purchase land and conservation easements to mitigate flooding are eligible for funding under Proposition 8. In some instances, purchase of land and/or conservation easements may be the most cost effective strategy for flood control.
With increased development in the Texas Hill Country comes increases in impervious cover. Already, cities like Boerne and Bulverde wrestle with torrents of storm water flowing into ephemeral streams to flood previously unaffected properties. This scenario, complicated by predictions of even more severe storms on the horizon due to changing climate, will lead to tragedy if not addressed. Comprehensive planning for flood control that considers entire watersheds is long overdue.
Likewise, with the population of Central Texas growing by leaps and bounds, we will need our parks and trails to provide ecosystem services – such as flood mitigation, recharging clean water to our aquifers, sequestering carbon in green spaces, and providing a haven for birds and wildlife – and safe venues to keep our population engaged in outdoor recreation for health and fitness. Passage of Proposition 5 will go a long way to making sure our Texas parks continue to provide all the services we expect from them while requiring no new taxes.
Election day is Nov. 5, and I urge all Texans to vote for Propositions 5 and 8.
November 2, 2019 Waco Tribune-Herald | By Todd Nafe
I generally avoid politics in this column, but once in a while, something comes along that’s so clear-cut that I have to speak out. (And no, it’s not what you’re thinking.)
First of all, Texas has about the most screwed up Constitution in the nation – and it was designed that way on purpose after the Civil War in order to keep power out of the hands of the federal government’s hand-picked governor at the time. The legislature only meets once every two years for 140 days, so if anything needs to be done in the meantime, it either has to wait for the next legislative session or election to make changes – or for the governor to call a special session.
The Texas Constitution was written in 1876 and has been amended nearly 500 times (as compared to the U.S. Constitution’s 27 amendments). The Texas government is set up so that lawmakers have little power to change laws without a constitutional amendment, which has to be voted on by voters statewide – even though some proposals might only affect a handful of counties or citizens. I remember voting on an amendment once that had to do with a right-of-way dispute between a few Panhandle ranchers and a railroad.As messed up as our state government is, though, it’s still important to participate in the parts that are meaningful. When you go vote on Tuesday, you’ll find 10 proposed constitutional amendments, and I encourage you to consider each carefully – but as an outdoorsman, I strongly urge you to vote in favor of Proposition 5.
This proposed amendment has the word “tax” in its title, which might cause some knee-jerk voters to automatically vote against it. However, Proposition 5 would not raise taxes – it would only protect funding already being collected from sporting goods sales and use from being raided by legislators who want to use outdoor-related funds in other projects.
Basically, it takes the money spent on things like hunting and fishing licenses and dedicates it to fund Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas Historical Commission to manage parks and historic sites. Voting “no” simply lets politicians go in and divert the outdoor-related funds and spend the money in other areas.
Proposition 5 has widespread support among conservation groups, outdoor sports-related organizations, nearly unanimous support from political leaders in both parties, and it just makes sense to use revenue generated from outdoor sales to support the outdoors. Plus, it’s what was promised when the original bill was passed back in 1993.
The arguments in favor of passing Proposition 5 are numerous and valid. The main argument against passage is basically, “What if we need the money somewhere else?”
Take a few minutes on Tuesday and do something good for the outdoors – vote “yes” on Proposition 5.
November 1, 2019 Bryan/College Station Eagle | By Megan Rodriguez
One of the 10 constitutional amendments on the ballot Tuesday is Proposition 5, which could have a direct impact on state parks and historical sites around the Brazos Valley.
If Proposition 5 passes, it will change the state constitution so that the sales tax on sporting goods will only go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. The Texas Legislature passed a law for this to happen in 1993, but Rep. John P. Cryier, R-Lockhart, told the Texas Tribune that tax revenue is often used to balance the state budget.
According to the TPWD website, there are dozens of capital repair projects that are underway to improve parks, and the completion of them depends on the sporting goods sales tax. Additionally, there are many projects that have been completed in the past thanks to the tax.
Projects at Lake Somerville State Park, which is about 40 minutes west of Bryan-College Station, include facility and bridge repairs from flood recovery. In recent years, the park was able to replace the wastewater treatment plant with revenue from the tax, according to the TPWD website.
Somerville State Park Superintendent John Rorie said that the majority of the park’s visitors are from the B-CS community. With three state parks and two historic sites about an hour drive from College Station, Rorie said if Proposition 5 passes, there could be changes made in those areas frequented by residents of the Brazos Valley.
Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, which was recently changed from a state park to historic site, also might see work done, from structural improvements on old buildings to windows and gutters that need to be replaced.
There has been a rise in the number of people who visit state parks and historic sites in recent years, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site Manager Jonathan Failor said, which leads to more wear on facilities and a greater need to keep up the area.
While Proposition 5 would most directly impact state parks and historical sites, there is also a chance that if it passes, there could be an increase in grant funds for city parks.
College Station Parks and Recreation Director David Schmitz said the amount of funds that trickle down to counties and municipalities will be determined by the TPWD, but it is usually done through several grant opportunities that cities are permitted to apply for. However, he noted, the grants are highly competitive.
Bryan Communications and Marketing Manager Kristen Waggener said the city has used state grant funds in the past to complete projects in places including Haswell Park and Austin’s Colony Park.
“The impact, if it were to be approved, could be increased grant funds,” Waggener said. “We don’t know if that would happen for sure, but it could be a secondary impact rather than a direct impact.”
Failor said there are outside organizations, including the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association, have supported Proposition 5 because they believe parks could benefit from the amendment.
“If it passes and the voters feel that this is what they want to put their support toward, that is game-changing to us,” Failor said. “We could really start to see funding for projects that have long needed it.”
November 1, 2019 The Houston Chronicle | By Ann Lents, Phoebe Tudor and Steven B. Jenkins
Whether you visit green spaces for daily exercise, are taking a young family on a daytrip, or are a retiree taking that tour of Texas you always dreamed of, our local parks, state parks, and historical sites are an affordable way for Houstonians to enjoy the great outdoors together. This Election Day, voters here in Houston and across Texas have a historic opportunity to protect these beautiful outdoor spaces and make them accessible for generations to come. Our local parks, state parks and historical sites are among our treasured spaces, providing recreation for our families and preserving our heritage so that we can always remember what makes Texas unique and great. However, if we’re being honest, most of these spaces are woefully underfunded. From 1993 to 2017, the state collected nearly $2.5 billion in revenues from the Sporting Goods Sales Tax, which was originally meant to fund the parks. Unfortunately, however, most of that money was used to fill in gaps elsewhere in the state budget. Today there are more than 610 specific deferred maintenance-related priorities at our state parks, estimated to cost more than $800 million. New state park openings that were slated to happen this year have had to be delayed. The good news is that the Texas Legislature this year passed bipartisan legislation that would amend the state constitution so that all of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax must be appropriated to our state parks and historical sites. Closer to home, the state has a grants program available to all our local parks systems. Through this grant program, the city of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Harris County Parks, Pearland, Pasadena and other city parks – virtually all park systems in Houston, Harris County and the state – will be eligible for funding to support their efforts to maintain the green space vital to our region. The grants program could bring significant funding to our area. This is where we, the voters, come in. On Nov. 5, Texans head to the polls. Ten proposed constitutional amendments are on the ballot, and Proposition 5 is one they should support, especially for those of us here in the Houston area. Proposition 5 will ensure that revenue from the Sporting Goods Sales Tax 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. Proposition 5 amendment will protect Texas’ natural areas and historic sites, so that we don’t lose the very things that make Texas such a special place to live — the things that we want our children and their children to have, so that they can make their own memories in these beautiful, protected spaces. We should also note that, in addition to contributing to our health and well-being, parks are a key economic driver, creating growth and economic opportunity for Texans across the state. Nearly 10 million people (including an exploding population of city- and suburb- dwellers seeking some respite from the sprawling Houston area) visit our state parks each year, and these parks generate nearly $900 million in sales, impacting local economies, creating jobs, growing tax revenue, and attracting visitors from across the state and around the country. Sustainable, consistent funding through Proposition 5 is the economically smart way to ensure our parks endure for years to come and benefit all Texans. It’s up to us now. We urge you to vote YES on Proposition 5 on the ballot. Let’s invest long-term in our economy and in our Texas heritage and culture. For Texas, Jill Boullion, Executive Director, Bayou Land Conservancy Sarah P. Bernhardt, Ph.D., President & Chief Executive Officer, Bayou Preservation Association Anne Olson, President, Buffalo Bayou Partnership Barry Mandel, President & Park Director, Discovery Green Lucy Bremond, Executive Director, Emancipation Park Conservancy Bob Stokes, President, Galveston Bay Foundation Kelly Snook, Executive Director, Greens Bayou Coalition Doreen Stoller, President, Hermann Park Conservancy Debbie Markey, Executive Director, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Beth White, President and CEO, Houston Parks Board Deborah January-Bevers, President & CEO, Houston Wilderness Mary Anne Piacentini, President and CEO, Katy Prairie Conservancy Shellye Arnold, President & CEO, Memorial Park Conservancy
Ann Lents is on the board of Houston Parks Board, Phoebe Tudor is on the board of Hermann Park Conservancy and Houston Parks Board, and Steven B. Jenkins is board chairman of Memorial Park Conservancy