Hope for Texas Parks?
The Houston Chronicle reports
that Texans are in favor of expanding our state parks system and in favor of spending more money on our parks. In a recent poll, 68 percent of respondents favored buying additional lands for natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation.
Rep. Harvey Hilderbrand (R - Kerrville) has proposed increasing parks funding from $32 million, where it has been capped since the mid 90s, to $85 million. For the last decade, funding for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has been linked to the sales tax revenue generated by the sale of sporting goods. The rationale being that people purchasing hunting, fishing, camping, and other sports equipment are expressing an interest and demand for park and natural services. Sporting goods currently bring in ~$100 million in sales taxes annually. A recent survey revealed that 65 percent of the respondents supported increasing parks funding beyond $32 million.
The kick here, of course, is that the additional sales tax revenues generated by sporting goods are currently going into the general fund. If funding for TPWD is increased, then either funding for other programs will need to be cut or additional revenues will need to be found. Considering that all of the current revenue debate in the Legislature is focused on public schools, it is doubtful that surplus revenue will be available for parks.Thanks to Pink Dome.