America's Best Idea - public parks - is also one of its most financially rewarding investments. By every measurement Texas parks have lived up to original expectations: to provide areas for renewal and recreation while at the same time generate significant economic benefits. Ten million visitors generate over $1 billion annually.
State parks' revenues pay for one-half of their budget - $35 million revenues in 2006. Added to the economic activity generated in the local communities, the return on investment is huge. That is the original purpose of our state parks: to keep Texans in Texas, spending their leisure-time money in local communities while attracting out-of-state tourists to.
Let's look at the much-discussed Texas State Railroad. Its 2006 budget was $2.1 million. Its revenues were $1 million. It lost $1 million, but it generated $6.6 million in sales and the impact on personal income was $4.4 million. It is not a loser; it is an investment winner.
That economic good news can evaporate if we allow our parks to degenerate, instead of generate. We must keep our parks attractive if they are to continue to attract.
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