Show your LOVE and #supporttexasparks by voting YES to #prop5onnov5
Updated: Mar 28
You may not know it, but every time you purchase a sporting good – like a bicycle, fishing tackle, golf equipment or a kayak – a portion of the existing tax you pay is called the Sporting Goods Sales Tax (SGST). The Texas Legislature passed a bill in 1993 to create the SGST because it realized that revenue from the cigarette tax, which had previously been the mechanism for funding our state parks, was declining. The state needed a way to keep up with growing demand for our parks that was sustainable and linked to the very consumers who were active users of outdoor recreation resources.
The legislation was widely praised and supported by the outdoor community, and from 1993 to 2017, more than $2.5 billion has been realized from the SGST. Unfortunately, only 40% of those funds have made their way to our parks. Every two years the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Historical Commission, which also accesses the SGST, have to submit appropriations requests to the Legislature. The percentage of the SGST appropriated each year has varied wildly, from as low as 19% up to 100%. This inconsistency has made long-term planning near impossible. Many of our sites face serious structural challenges from deteriorating and outdated infrastructure, harsh environmental conditions and extreme weather events. There are five parks still waiting to be opened.
All the while, visitation has continued to increase. State Parks have approached 10 million annual visitations alone. Growing demand for our parks and historical sites, coupled with Texas’ growing population, have put an even greater strain on a fragile system.
Fortunately, the 86th Texas Legislature wanted to ensure that our parks and historical sites had consistent, reliable funding for generations to come. A bill to put a constitutional dedication of the SGST on the ballot this fall passed with near-unanimous support, demonstrating the widespread recognition that it was long past time to address this issue.
Now it’s our turn to do our part. On November 5, Texans will have the opportunity to vote YES on Proposition 5 to protect Texas' natural areas, water quality and history. Importantly, this requires no new taxes or fees. Prop. 5 will dedicate revenue from the SGST, 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.
Constitutional amendment elections have notoriously low turnout. As members of the outdoor community, it is our responsibility to ensure that Prop.5 passes with flying colors. That’s why we need to ensure all of our members are aware of the election, are registered to vote and show up to vote YES on Prop. 5 on Nov. 5
Thanks to the Coalition for Texas State Parks for sharing these resources with us so we can share them with you!
Sarah served as a Texas Main Street manager for over a decade and is a proud two-time Past President of the Texas Downtown Association. She lives in Smithville Texas and has worked in local government. community development, destination management and downtown revitalization across the State of Texas. She is a motivational speaker, consensus builder, and visionary problem solver who helps organizations and communities understand their purpose and achieve collective impact.