Commentary: We must act now to save our state parks

More than 30 million visitors have taken in the majesty of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Last year alone, more than 10 million visited the Louvre in Paris with such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa. Imagine for a moment the absurdity of locking these treasures away from public view because their buildings fell into disrepair. Yet that is exactly what’s happening to many of our state parks because funds intended for their upkeep have been diverted elsewhere, year after year.

There is a simple fix to this problem. Stop the practice of diverting funds collected for our parks to other uses. Since 1993, when the Texas Legislature voted to fund our parks system with state sales tax revenues collected from sporting goods sales, only 47 percent of the nearly $2.8 billion collected have been appropriated to state parks.

Perhaps our parks are easy targets to balance the budget. They are taken for granted; squeezed out by high profile policy debates. They don’t exist because of a federal mandate. They exist for public enjoyment, because every Texas daughter and son deserves the opportunity to experience our state’s natural treasures, rich cultural heritage, and the great outdoors.

Read more from Rep. John Cyrier (R-Lockhart) on the Statesman’s Opinion section here.