Budget Calls for State Park Closures
Education and taxes are the issues getting the most attention early on in the 2013 Texas Legislature, but another budget battle could be brewing in Austin. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would close seven state parks during the next two years under the state's initial budget plan. Parks and Wildlife requested $18.9 million in funding from the state's sporting goods sales tax, but the Legislative Budget Board only allocated $6.9 million in its budget released earlier this week. Ian Davis with the group Keep Texas Parks Open is trying to change that. "We have a budget surplus, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to be cutting parks at this time," he tells KTRH.
Davis and his group are organizing people around the state through social media and town hall meetings to push lawmakers to fully fund the parks and wildlife budget request. He says it is not a partisan issue. "It has overwhelming support from Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party, Green Party, you name it....state parks are beloved." Davis is optimistic that the funding can be restored without having to close any parks.
So far, no specific parks have been targeted for possible closure, and no such decisions would likely be made until the final budget is agreed on at the end of the legislative session. Until then, Davis and his group will be working to get the word out to lawmakers and average citizens across Texas. "There's a lot of parks supporters all over the state," he says. "And we realize that unless we get organized, there are gonna be park closures, so it's a very dire situation."