Action Alerts

Big Bend License Plate Funds in Danger:
POSTED APRIL 12, 2011
The future our specialty license plate income may depend on your call in the next few days to members of the State Senate Finance Committee.  Many legislators may not realize what is happening to license plate funds.

Friends of Big Bend is a nonprofit that receives funding through specialty license plate sales. There are more than 180 specialty license plates currently available for purchase from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. The majority of plates were developed specifically to benefit agencies and charities around the state – like Big Bend.  Each agency and non-profit organization has taken responsibility for marketing their own plates.  Buyers of the plates have done so with the knowledge that the majority of the revenue will fund the arts, animal spaying and neutering, programs and projects at Big Bend, or many other worthy causes buyers personally care about.  If buyers cannot trust where the money is going then future specialty plate sales will suffer, resulting in less money for the park.
 
House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 1278 plan to take 50 percent of all annual specialty plate revenue to attempt to fix the $23 billion budget deficit. In 2010, revenue of approximately $16,330,000 was collected from the sale of specialty license plates in Texas.[1] What the bill authors don’t realize is that out of the $16,330,000 total specialty plate revenue, highway and general funds already received about $10,811,000. Also, a private vendor firm, My Plates, received $2,740,624 in 2010 in commission. This leaves only $2,779,000 to agencies and charities available as a target to budget writers. 

For 2010, the approximate breakdowns of beneficiaries from the charity plate are as follows:

  • Scholarships – $ 515,000
  • State Agencies – $ 618,900
  • Grant and Non-profits – $ 1,463,200
  • Municipalities – $ 181,700
  • Total – $ 2,779,000 est.

The specialty plate revenue will hardly balance the budget. Since agencies and charities only receive about $2,779,000, based on the 2010 statistics, and the bill proposes to take 50 percent of the revenue, the state would receive a little more than $1 million annually. This amount is a mere drop in the bucket to balance Texas’s budget, yet many agencies and charities will be devastated by losing this funding. Texas will be worse for it.

Revenue from specialty license plates gives nonprofits a wonderful opportunity to better the community. At Big Bend, this represents approximately $50,000 per year that goes directly to the park for programs like Teacher Ranger Teacher or the restoration of wetland bird habitat in the Rio Grande Village Area of the park.

What you can do:

1) Every call, e-mail or visit to a legislative office counts!  Please tell your representatives you do not want these license plate funds diverted away from Big Bend!

2) Please contact the members of the Senate Finance Committee immediately to let them know your concerns.   The members and their contact information are listed below. Contact your House and Senate friends and let them know!

Senate Finance Committee Members:

Sen. Steve Ogden (Committee Chair)
steve.ogden [Email address: steve.ogden #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">steve.ogden [Email address: steve.ogden #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0105

Sen. Juan Hinojosa (Committee Vice Chair)
juan.hinojosa [Email address: juan.hinojosa #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">juan.hinojosa [Email address: juan.hinojosa #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0120

Sen. Bob Deuell
bob.deuell [Email address: bob.deuell #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">bob.deuell [Email address: bob.deuell #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0102

Sen. Robert Duncan
robert.duncan [Email address: robert.duncan #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">robert.duncan [Email address: robert.duncan #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0128

Sen. Kevin Eltife
kevin.eltife [Email address: kevin.eltife #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">kevin.eltife [Email address: kevin.eltife #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0101

Sen. Craig Estes
craig.estes [Email address: craig.estes #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">craig.estes [Email address: craig.estes #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0130 
  
Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.
eddie.lucio [Email address: eddie.lucio #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">eddie.lucio [Email address: eddie.lucio #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0127

Sen. Jane Nelson
jane.nelson [Email address: jane.nelson #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">jane.nelson [Email address: jane.nelson #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0112

Sen. Dan Patrick
dan.patrick [Email address: dan.patrick #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">dan.patrick [Email address: dan.patrick #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0107

Sen. Kel Seliger
kel.seliger [Email address: kel.seliger #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">kel.seliger [Email address: kel.seliger #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0131

Sen. Florence Shapiro
florence.shapiro [Email address: florence.shapiro #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">florence.shapiro [Email address: florence.shapiro #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0108

Sen. Royce West
royce.west [Email address: royce.west #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">royce.west [Email address: royce.west #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0123

Sen. John Whitmire
john.whitmire [Email address: john.whitmire #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">john.whitmire [Email address: john.whitmire #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0115

Sen. Tommy Williams
tommy.williams [Email address: tommy.williams #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">tommy.williams [Email address: tommy.williams #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0104

Sen. Judith Zaffirini
judith.zaffirini [Email address: judith.zaffirini #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">judith.zaffirini [Email address: judith.zaffirini #AT# senate.state.tx.us - replace #AT# with @ ]
(512) 463-0121

[1] All data obtained from TxDMV records.

 
Thank you in advance for your support of our license plate program, and for helping us defend it as best we can.  Please contact us at friendsdirector [Email address: friendsdirector #AT# yahoo.com - replace #AT# with @ ] if you have any questions.  We will keep you informed.


E-Alerts are here!

Click in the box on the left to be added to our e-alert list. You’ll be contacted when FBBNP is working on important issues and legislation for the betterment of the park.  This spring there is legislation passing through Congress that will impact the park, so stay tuned!  You’ll also be informed of upcoming events and how you can help the park too!

Auditorium request resubmitted
Friends of Big Bend is resubmitting its request to Congressman Ciro Rodriguez for an appropriation for the proposed auditorium.  Our request will be submitted in February 2010, we will be asking for your support at that time to ensure it passes out of the sub-committee this year.

Auditorium Request Not Funded
On June 10, 2009 the House Interior Appropriations Sub-Committee elected to not include our appropriation request of $500,000 for the auditorium, submitted on our behalf by Congressman Ciro Rodriguez.  At present, there is no explanation for this decision and we are weighing options on how best to move forward with our efforts at funding for this critical visitor services need.

H.R. 167 – Expanding the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River
Friends of Big Bend National Park is supporting Congressman Ciro Rodriguez in his efforts to expand the boundaries of the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.  Administered by Big Bend National Park staff, this area of the Rio Grande is in need of federal protection to ensure that upriver conservation efforts are not wasted. See the full text of the bill here.

Note:  The measure has been forwarded to the House Natural Resources Committee.

Wilderness Designations
FBBNP, National Parks Conservation Association and The Wilderness Society are actively working with park staff and Congressman Rodriguez’s office to make permanent the designated wilderness areas in Big Bend National Park.  Our goal is to secure wilderness designation by 2010 for the 533,900 acres of Big Bend National Park that the National Park Service has recommended for wilderness.  We have formally requested Congressman Rodriguez to file this bill as of October 2009.

If you are supportive of this issue, please contact Congressman Rodriguez’s office and let him know you would like to see Congress move forward with this issue.   You can get specific information on the Wilderness designations here.

Christmas Mountains: Superintendent Wellman informed the FBBNP Board of Directors at the June 2008 meeting that there has been no recent action from the General Land Office regarding the Christmas Mountains.  In February 2008 the FBBNP Board of Directors voted to support the park’s desire to add the Christmas Mountains to Big Bend National Park.  Keep checking our website for further developments.