Truth in Budgeting for State Park Funding

Good news from Representative Larson’s recent capitol update: Last week, HB 158 passed the House by a vote of 138-1. The bill is now headed for the Senate. Since 1993, a portion of the sales tax revenue generated by sporting goods has been statutorily allocated to fund state park operations, capital, and local park grants. Unfortunately, only a portion of this funding has been spent on parks and the rest has been kept in general revenue to be spent on items unrelated to parks.

HB 158 seeks to remedy this by ensuring 100 percent of sporting goods sales tax revenue collected will be used for parks and historical sites (94 percent to Texas Parks and Wildlife and 6 percent to Texas Historical Commission).

Many of the parks in our system are in dire need of maintenance and cost estimates for addressing deferred maintenance are as high as $607 million statewide. TPWD is currently unable to bring more than 47,000 acres of land that have been donated or acquired into park inventory without additional funding.

Our state parks have a profound impact on every person who lives in or visits our great state, and they are the most visible example of how the state takes care of its most iconic Texas institutions.

As our state continues to become more urbanized, many young Texans are growing up in cities and the only opportunity they will have to experience nature and wildlife is through a visit to a state or local park. This bill helps restore integrity in the Legislature’s budgeting process by using funding for its intended purpose.

Last week, HB 158 passed the House by a vote of 138-1. The bill is now headed for the Senate. This marks the third session that we’ve filed this legislation and are elated that our hard work and determination has paid off in getting this bill through the House.