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State Parks

Seventeen million visitors to Missouri state parks and historic sites generate over $700 million in economic activity for Missouri annually, including 7,660 jobs (2003 data).

Missouri’s park system is only mid-sized among the states and below average in funding, yet it has ranked in the top five in the nation owing to the quality of its resources and management. That reputation is now in jeopardy.

Missouri state parks are facing a $200 million backlog in vitally needed infrastructure rehabilitation.

The last major infusion of infrastructure and CI (capital improvement) funds was 10% of the $600 million Third State Building Fund in the mid-1980s.

  • The last major infusion of infrastructure and CI (capital improvement) funds was 10% of the $600 million Third State Building Fund in the mid-1980s.
  • With the loss of general revenue for salaries in 1990 and increasing diversions and exemptions from the Parks and Soils Sales Tax (half of 1/10th of 1%), the system has been unable to keep up with critical infrastructure rehabilitation, hence the growing backlog.
  • The economic downturn has reduced Park Sales Tax revenue from $41 million in FY 2008 to $37.8 million in FY 2010, requiring the elimination of 120 staff positions (20% of total staff) in 2009.

Make State Park Funding a Priority

HJR 9, an $800 million Fifth State Building Fund bond issue with up to $250 million for state agencies other than higher education, was introduced by Rep. Chris Kelly in 2011 and assigned to the House Committee on Higher Education. A similar measure in 2009 passed the House and reached the floor of the Senate.

We advocate an amendment to HJR 9 or to any measure for a new State Building Fund to specify that 10% of the total ($80-100 million) be designated for state parks.

  • Missouri has regularly used bonds to fund critical infrastructure for state facilities. The state’s AAA bond rating, current low construction costs, and the need for jobs make this an excellent time to invest in our future.
  • The bonding referendum would have to be approved by a vote of the citizenry; the 71% “yes” vote for the renewal of the PSST in 2006, is a major selling point for including state parks in HJR 9.

A State Park Funding Coalition of more than twenty different citizen organizations is led by Susan Flader, president of the Missouri Parks Association, and David Murphy, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, both 501C3 non-profit organizations. For more information please contact Susan Flader at 573-442-1058 or fladers@missouri.edu or visit http://parks.missouri.org.