Proposal to fund Game and Parks advanced

A bill that would divert state sales tax revenue to the state Game and Parks Commission was advanced to select file March 4.

LB814, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery, would dedicate the state sales tax revenue derived from the sale or lease of motorboats and personal watercraft for commission infrastructure maintenance projects.

Avery said the bill represents a reasonable way to address the needs of the commission.

“We can no longer ignore the fact that we have some very serious issues in our state parks,” he said. “We have something to be proud of and something that brings significant economic development to the state. [This bill] represents a responsible way to address those needs.”

Currently, state sales tax revenue is deposited into the state General Fund, the State Highway Capital Improvement Fund and the Highway Allocation Fund. Under LB814, the revenue also would be directed to a newly created Game and Parks Commission Capital Maintenance Fund.

A Revenue Committee amendment, adopted 31-0, incorporated provisions of LB841, originally introduced by Kearney Sen. Galen Hadley. Under the amendment, the state sales tax revenue collected from all-terrain and utility-type vehicles that have been titled in Nebraska also would be dedicated to the Game and Parks Commission Capital Maintenance Fund.

Cedar Rapids Sen. Kate Sullivan supported the bill, saying updates are sorely needed in many parks across the state.

“All of these parks are greatly loved by the people who visit them throughout the year,” she said, “but that will only work if they can go to places that look good and are properly maintained.”

Hoskins Sen. Dave Bloomfield opposed the bill. He said Game and Parks’ mismanagement of resources has led to its current state.

“[Game and Parks] is a mismanaged organization that has not spent well the resources we have given them,” he said. “They have had ample opportunity to divest themselves of property that should be put back as farmland and on the property tax rolls.”

Senators advanced the bill on a 32-1 vote.

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