This weekend Chris Bell, David Van Os, Hank Gilbert, Fred Head, Valinda Hathcox and several other candidates campaigned to save Texas state parks. BOR has this post, But the train don’t run by here no more. Somervell County Salon has the video, VIDEO of the Texas State Railroad Bell- Van Os- Gilbert- Head- Hathcox and others News Conference. Capitol Annex has this wrap up of the media this has created for these candidates across East Texas, Bell’s East Texas Tour Gets Good Press. Here’s an excerpt from the Tyler Morning Press, Bell Slams Governor’s Park Stance.
Bell said that the railroad is just one of the state parks suffering to the brink of closure. Texas ranks 49th in state park funding, and per capita, Texans spend $1.20 on state parks annually, compared to the national average of $7.50.
Money problems have been mounting at state parks for years, forcing Texas Parks and Wildlife to cut park hours and staff and limit maintenance.
Bell said that the Battleship Texas is held together with “tape and Silly Putty,” and that the elevator at the San Jacinto Monument no longer goes all the way to the top.
“Seriously, sometimes the punch line writes itself,” he said.
A panel created to study state park budget woes released a draft report earlier this month, showing that the system needs another $100 million a year just to keep up with current expenses.
Bell argued that Texas taxpayers are already paying for state parks through park improvement bonds, park fees and the sporting goods tax, which has been capped at $32 million by lawmakers. The rest of the revenue collected from the sporting goods tax pays for other state services.
“For every dollar that Texans pay toward the sporting goods tax, less than 20 cents wind up making it here to our state parks,” Bell said. “Now, after years of treating this parks money as nothing more than a slush fund to cover his own incompetence, (Perry) is calling for an additional 10 percent budget cut for state parks.”
He said he is disgusted that Perry and Strayhorn have talked about privatizing state parks.
Bell said raising entrance fees to pay for services that the sporting goods tax is supposed to cover is double tax fraud on the part of Perry and state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, an independent gubernatorial candidate.
“(It’s double tax fraud), whether it’s raising tuition at state colleges, raising the cost of medical care by kicking kids off the CHIP program, or slapping toll plazas on every highway they can find. They aren’t competent enough to balance the budget legitimately and they aren’t honest enough to admit to us when they pass these backdoor tax hikes,” Bell said.
Removing or raising the cap would give the parks money to survive, he said. Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, has worked for years to introduce legislation to lift the revenue cap.
“Perry loves to tell us how proud he is of Texas. I just wish that every once in a while, he’d act that way,” Bell said.
Other Democratic candidates for state offices showed their support for Bell on Saturday, blasting Perry and Sen. Todd Staples of Palestine for allowing the Texas State Railroad to lose funding.
“I’m sick of it,” said Fred Head, Democratic candidate for state comptroller. “I am sick of seeing you folks having to worry every six months on whether you’re going to have a park or not.”
Head urged voters to get rid of Perry and Staples and elect candidates who “remember that elected offices belong to the people.”
I transcribed this part from what Hank Gilbert said about Todd Staples in Palestine:
His Tenure as a representative of the people is over. It’s obvious that he needs to come back home to Palestine Texas, and let the good people of Anderson County reacquaint him with the values and what we’re supposed to stand for in East Texas.
I intend to rid this county and state government, and in particular agriculture, of yet another parasite and political prostitute and send him back to you.
The more I see, hear, and read about Hank Gilbert the more I like . Hank Gilbert just looks like an Agriculture Commissioner as opposed to Todd Staples. I know looks aren’t everything but all Todd Staples wants to do is use the this office as a springboard, Hank Gilbert will do what’s right for agriculture in Texas. That’s a big difference.