Texans overwhelmingly backed two bird-friendly changes to the state constitution in elections on Nov. 5—one designed to preserve the future of Texas’ state parks system and the other that would help enhance the resiliency of coastal ecosystems against future flooding.
Proposition 5—which was approved by 88 percent of Texas voters—ensures that money generated from the existing sales tax on sporting goods equipment can be used only for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. Texas law already designated this tax revenue for upkeep of state parks and historic sites, but state legislators in practice did not allocate those dollars fully for their intended purpose.
Estimates were that as much as two-thirds of those dollars were being diverted toward other uses, so the amendment represents a huge shot in the arm for Texas parks. In a state where over 95% of the land is in private hands, a vibrant and properly funded state parks systems are critical to preserving bird-friendly habitats as well as ensuring equitable access for all Texans to be outdoors to enjoy the natural beauty of the state.
The destruction wrought in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and along the Texas coast focused policymakers around the goal of providing a funding source for projects intended to mitigate future flooding events, which have been happening with increasing frequency in the past decade.
With 78 percent approval, Texas voters approved Proposition 8, which allows for the creation of the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation and flood control projects. Coupled with a fund transfer of $793 million made earlier this year by the Texas Legislature, passage of Prop 8 is a signal achievement in how Texas might manage flooding preparation going forward.