Annalisa Peace of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance speaks as Anna Farrell-Sherman (left) of Environment Texas and Joseph Fitzsimons, founder of the Texas Coalition for State Parks, look on.
Local environmental groups are urging Texans to vote in favor of a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee additional funding for parks and historical sites.
Proposition 5 is one of 10 amendments to the Texas constitution voters will consider in during the upcoming November 5 election. Early voting on those measures begins Monday, October 21, and will run through November 1.
Prop 5 would require revenue from an existing sales tax on sporting goods to be provided to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. That tax is already dedicated to parks, but the legislature hasn't always allocated the funds for the intended purpose, Anna Farrell-Sherman of Environment Texas said Wednesday during a press conference at San Antonio's Mission Conception.
"From 1993 to 2017, the state collected nearly $2.5 billion in revenues from the sporting good sales tax," said Farrell-Sherman, who joined other parks advocates on a seven-city tour promoting awareness of the amendment. "However, only 40% of those revenues have been allocated to our parks."
From a consumer perspective, the amendment wouldn't change much, since it doesn't call for any new taxes or an increase on existing ones. The proposition would simply add language guaranteeing funding from the sporting goods sales tax goes to Texas parks — and by extension, Texas communities, advocates say.
"One of our main goals [with Prop 5] is to improve the infrastructure of parks in our lower-income communities," said Joseph Fitzsimons, founder of the Texas Coalition for State Parks. "In a lot of cases, the infrastructure of our parks is just too old. It’s falling apart."
According to the National Recreation and Parks Association, parks are more than just community assets — they're essential public services
. In a recent study, the NRPA found that parks and protected public land improve water quality, protect groundwater and increase property values.
"Investing in our parks and communities should be a nonpartisan issue," said Annalisa Peace of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance. "I think we can all agree that everyone can appreciate the beauty in nature and wildlife around us."
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