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Texas House Boosts Support for State Parks

Families across Texas are spending time this summer exploring and enjoying one of our greatest treasures: our parks system. The 95 parks, natural areas, and historic sites in the State Parks System have given generations of Texans an accessible, affordable way to relax and connect to the natural wonder of this state.

This year, the Texas Legislature acted to not just improve our parks, but to ensure that a reliable funding source is in place to support these magical spaces. Because of the Legislature’s action, Texas families will be able to enjoy these outdoor wonders for many years to come.

State law says that the sales tax that Texans pay on sporting goods is supposed to fund our parks. But for decades, the Legislature has instead sent much of that money to other programs.

If you’ve read any of my previous newsletters, you know that this budgetary practice is not unique to the parks system. But you also know that we’ve made it a priority in the Texas House to fix it – and we’re having a considerable amount of success.

The House has led the effort to drastically reduce the amount of money that is collected for one purpose (such as state parks) but used for something else. As part of that effort, we passed legislation this year, authored by Representative Lyle Larson, to require that all of the money collected in sales taxes on sporting goods be used for the parks.

This legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Abbott, will ensure that the parks have a stable funding source moving forward. That source of funding will not only allow the parks to operate from year to year, but it will also make it easier to plan and deliver needed maintenance and other improvements. And it will provide predictability as Texans contemplate the type of parks system that we want to have in the future.

The Texas population continues to grow twice as fast as the rest of the country. This growth is a reflection of the economic opportunity that exists here, but it also serves as a reminder that we need to preserve our distinct natural heritage. That heritage lives within our state parks. And as long as we give those parks the attention and the resources they need, Texas families will continue to enjoy them for many summers to come.