AUSTIN – Environment Texas praised House Speaker Joe Straus for his call on the Legislature to stop using funds for purposes other than that for which they were intended. The Speaker testified before an Appropriations subcommittee today and criticized use of so-called “dedicated funds” to certify the budget. Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger released the following statement:
“Legislators routinely raid dedicated funds reserved for the environment in order to balance the budget. Sales taxes on sporting goods and license plate revenues are supposed to go fund Texas parks and wildlife and surcharges on certain vehicles are supposed to go to cleaning up our air, but time and time again the Legislature deprives our air, land and water of the funds for which they were intended. Texans are sick and tired of the budget gimmickry and want their tax dollars to fund the programs near and dear to us. We applaud Speaker Straus for shining the light on this practice and urge the Legislature to put it to an end.
The 82nd Legislature cut the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) funding by 21% this biennium, or about $150 million dollars less to protect parks and wildlife. 111 TPWD employees were laid off, 23 parks saw reductions in staff, and around 10 parks operate fewer hours of the week. Meanwhile, the sporting goods sales tax is estimated to bring in $250 million during the current biennium, but only $26 million per year went for parks. This is an outrage.
Similar shenanigans are taking place with the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan. It’s time for truth in taxation and for an end in the bait and switch tactics used so long by the Legislature.”