Press Release from Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, Feb. 10, 2010:
Bill Would Prohibit Dipping into Parks Funds to Cover Deficits
NASHVILLE – Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, wants to preserve Tennessee’s natural beauty for future generations by prohibiting parks money from being transferred to the state’s general fund.
“These funds exist for the purpose of securing natural areas which would otherwise be lost to development,” Henry said. “We can’t lose sight of the importance of conservation, even in tough economic times.”
Amid concerns over the budget, lawmakers will be looking under every rock for money to cover revenue shortfalls. Under the bill (SB2861), money for state and local parks acquisitions, wetland acquisitions and the agricultural resources conservation fund would be protected from filling budget holes.
Henry, the ranking senior member of the Senate, has seen the community benefit immensely from the parks money. The land around Radnor Lake, for instance, was at one time scheduled for development before being acquired by the state, Henry said.
Now, nearly a million people annually enjoy Radnor Lake State Natural Area, as it has become one of Middle Tennessee’s premier parks. Local universities like Tennessee State University and Lipscomb University have used the area for ongoing research.
“Clearly our parks are one of Tennessee’s greatest investments, both for our economy and for our families,” Henry said. “We must protect these funds in order to protect our natural areas.”
The bill has been assigned to a House subcommittee.