Proposition 5 to dedicate funds to state parks and historical sites

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Proposition 5 to dedicate funds to state parks and historical sites

A river running through one of the surrounding Texas State Parks.

A river running through one of the surrounding Texas State Parks.

Chelsea Yohn

A river running through one of the surrounding Texas State Parks.

Chelsea Yohn

Chelsea Yohn

A river running through one of the surrounding Texas State Parks.

Michael Garcia, News Reporter

Texas voters will cast their votes for or against Proposition 5 on Election Day, Nov. 5.

Proposition 5 dictates a sporting goods sales tax—a portion of sales tax collected from the sale of sporting goods in Texas—to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Historical Commission.

The Texas Legislature passed House Bill 706 which created the Sporting Goods Sales Tax in 1993. According to a press release by Texas Recreation and Park Society, SGST has collected about $2.5 billion in revenue, with 40% allocated to parks.

Senate Bill 26, which places Proposition 5 on the ballot this election, was signed off by Gov. Greg Abbott June 7, allowing voters the final decision. The bill—authored by Republican Texas Senator Lois Kolkhorst of District 18—is being pushed by both political parties in a bipartisan fashion to pass.

press release released by Kolhorst’s office April 10 stated, “As our population grows, Texas must promote and protect our public parks and state historic sites. We can all agree these special places are vital to our economy and to our heritage, culture and way of life.”

Although the bill was passed unanimously, some voters voiced concerns regarding the proposition. Apprehensions included Proposition 5 weakening flexibility in the budget and leading to unnecessary growth of the states’ budget by requiring money allocated to one area, even if needs were greater in another.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation member Dale Blasingame, senior lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, wants voters to understand SGST is not a new tax nor will it raise taxes.

“All this is is a correction of a problem that has been happening for 26 years now,” Blasingame said.

According to the Legislative Appropriations Request for next year, made by Texas Parks and Wildlife, the damage to the parks caused by Hurricane Harvey was estimated at $27.5 million.

“Some of the state parks still have not been able to get cleaned up because they either do not have the funding, the staffing or the resources to do that,” Blasingame said.

There are 19 organizations supporting Proposition 5. Travis Audubon is a nonprofit focusing on land conservation, habitat restoration and management, environmental education and conservation advocacy for birds. Executive Director Nicole Netherton thinks anyone who favors the outdoors should care about Proposition 5.

“Birders like me and members of Travis Audubon know good habitats provides everything birds need to thrive, and our state parks are some of the very best places to enjoy birds,” Netherton said. “Spending time in nature at these parks brings us joy, a thing not to be dismissed in the modern world.”

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Nov. 5.

For more information about what and who will be on the ballot, visit The University Star’s Election Guide.

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