Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator
On Tuesday, November 5, Texas voters took to the ballot box and approved the constitutional amendment known as Proposition 5, which fully dedicates the sales tax revenue for certain sporting goods items to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Parks Division (TPWD) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC). The full dedication of these funds will significantly improve the Park Division’s ability to complete long-term planning and address the changing and growing needs of Texas’ state parks and historic sites, as well as improve hunting and fishing opportunities for Texas’ sportsmen and women.
Currently, sporting goods sales tax revenue must be allocated to TWPD by the legislature, a process that also grants the legislature power to allocate this revenue for other uses. In fact, the amount allocated to TPWD has often been well below the maximum threshold of available funds generated by the sporting goods sales tax. Recognizing that the allocation of these funds was inconsistent with the original intent of the sporting goods sales tax, Texas’ 86th Legislature unanimously passed SB 26, thereby introducing Proposition 5. Passing with 88% support among Texas voters, Proposition 5 will fully take effect on September 1, 2021 and ensure that revenue from the sporting goods sales tax is automatically allocated to TPWD and THC without need for the appropriations process.
Generating an estimated $168.5 million in Fiscal Year 2019, the full allocation of Texas’ sporting goods sales tax will provide significant funding to support Texas’ state parks and historic sites. Through improved access and opportunities for hunters and anglers on Texas’ state parks, this sales tax on outdoor gear represents a viable example that has been explored in other states as a supplement to the American System of Conservation Funding, the “user pays – public benefits” structure that largely funds state wildlife and fisheries management. However, it is important that safeguards exist to prevent these funds from being diverted to other accounts.
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- Improve hunter and target shooter involvement in regulatory and legislative processes. (11.49%)
- Enact or expand temporary hunter education deferral programs (apprentice license programs, multiyear options, programs for all first-time hunters regardless of age, and programs promoting hunting of multiple game species). (12.26%)
- Offer shooting sports and hunter education as school activities and recreation programs. (63.22%)
- Link existing programming into family-oriented organizations (such as churches and home-school groups) where participants will have the social support to continue. (13.03%)