PRESS RELEASE
from the Office of State Senator Craig Estes, District 30

For Immediate Release
January 24, 2007
Contact: Jody Withers
(512) 463-0130

Senator Estes files bill to increase parks funding

Austin - Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) filed Senate Bill 252 to increase the available funding for state and local parks across Texas.

"I believe we must properly maintain our parks to preserve our Texas landscapes, wild river basins, rolling hill country, and windswept prairies," said Estes. "These parks preserve our Texas heritage and must be carefully guarded for not only the enjoyment of our generation, but for the generations to follow."

Senate Bill 252 dramatically increases the available funds for state and local parks. State parks are funded primarily by proceeds from the sales tax on sporting goods, which bring in about $105 million per year to the state. However, under current law, these proceeds going to state parks are capped at $32 million and in the most recent state budget, only $23 million were actually directed to the parks.

"It is no secret that lawmakers in Austin have tightened the budget belt as state agencies have been asked to do more with less funding to balance the budget without increasing taxes," added Estes. "But, it is time to affirm our commitment to the conservation of our parks and historical preservations with the proceeds taxpayers give for that purpose."

Senate Bill 252 would remove the $32 million cap and direct all tax proceeds to parks and wildlife. The bill also would set aside about 15 percent of tax revenues, or about $15 million, to fund grants for community parks in rural areas.

"In addition to preserving our great outdoors, the Parks and Wildlife Department maintains several historic preservation sites including the birthplace of President Eisenhower in Grayson County," said Estes.

Senator Estes is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Coastal Resources, and is Vice Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

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