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State Park Closures, Texas Liquor Law Changes Possible
Monday brings another big day at the Capitol, as lawmakers will begin deciding how to spend around $96 billion over 2014-15. State leaders are expected to release budget recommendations Monday. Republicans, including Gov. Rick Perry, are calling for more tax cuts and tight spending, and that could mean trouble for state parks.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials say 20 out of 95 parks could have to close if the Legislature doesn’t approve the extra $18.9 million they’ve asked for the park system. The Fort Worth Star Telegram quotes park officials as saying they’ve already cut back hours and staff as far as they can, and closing parks is the only option left. In total, the parks are asking for more than $600 million, including $103 million to restore budget cuts from earlier sessions.
So which parks could get the axe? That’s still up in the air. The Bastrop City Council also voted on a resolution January 8, asking lawmakers to support any bill to increase funding to the state park system and grants for local parks.
Lawmakers are expected to discuss the budget on Monday before filing a Senate bill, with hundreds of changes possible from the draft to the final bill.
Another move the Legislature is considering that could impact millions of Texans: changes to alcohol sales. If House Bill 421 passes, liquor stores could be open on Sundays from noon until 10 p.m., though they would stay closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The bill’s author, Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), says it could bring an extra $8 million for the state. Some critics worry that money can only come from people buying more liquor than they currently do, and others worry about increased drunk driving, a concern the bill’s author says there’s no research to support.
By Adam Bennett