Texas voters have a historic opportunity to ensure consistent funding for State Parks and Historic Sites

Published 8:21 am Wednesday, September 25, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas Six weeks from today, 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. It does not require new taxes or fees.

Funding for these sites has been historically inconsistent. In 1993, the Texas Legislature wisely worked to replace the 1970s and 1980s cigarette tax funding (a one-penny-per-pack tax on cigarettes) for state parks with a consistent stream of funding designated from a portion of the sales taxes collected from the sale of sporting goods, known as the Sporting Goods Sales Tax (SGST). Unfortunately, the funds have not consistently found their way to the parks. In fact, from 1993 to 2017, the state has collected nearly $2.5 billion in revenues from the SGST, yet only 40 percent has been appropriated for parks. 

In 2019, the 86th Legislature, with the leadership of State Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and State Representative John Cyrier (R-Lockhart), took the important step to address this and preserve our state and local parks and historic sites for future generations. The near-unanimous passage of SJR 24 paved the way for Proposition 5 to be placed on the ballot this November.

 “As our state population grows, we must promote and protect our public parks and state historic sites,” said Senator Kolkhorst. “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.”

 “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,” said Representative Cyrier. “This amendment will change that and provide the funding system necessary to preserve these natural treasures for future generations.”

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. Importantly, Proposition 5 requires no new taxes or fees. A “YES” vote on Proposition 5 on November 5th 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. More information can be found at www.SupportTexasParks.org