AUSTIN – Today, the Senate Finance committee approved a budget increasing funding for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by $35 million over the previous biennium. This funding level would likely prevent any parks closures and supports TPWD requests for fisheries and wildlife funding. However, the $15.5 million requested for the local parks grant program is not funded. Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger released the following statement:
“This budget is a big improvement for our parks after the devastating cuts of last session. Our state parks let us experience nature and preserve Texas history. They protect the clean water we depend on and provide a critical home for wildlife. These treasured places should never be closed. We applaud the Senate Finance committee for responding to the public outcry and making sure our parks are kept open and safe.
However, there is more work to be done. This budget provides no funding at all for the local parks grants program, which provides matching funds assistance to Texas’ local governments for local park and recreation acquisition and facility development and outdoor outreach programs. We have the money to fund this program. Sales taxes on sporting goods bring in enough money to support all of our parks but, under this budget, the Legislature continues to use those funds for purposes other than for what they are intended. As a result, local parks and recreation programs will suffer."