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Big Bend License Plate fund in Danger
Friends of Big Bend

April, 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 donít 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 Texasís 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! 3) 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) (512) 463-0105 Sen. Juan Hinojosa (Committee Vice Chair) (512) 463-0120 Sen. Bob Deuell (512) 463-0102 Sen. Robert Duncan (512) 463-0128 Sen. Kevin Eltife (512) 463-0101 Sen. Craig Estes (512) 463-0130 Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (512) 463-0127 Sen. Jane Nelson (512) 463-0112 Sen. Dan Patrick (512) 463-0107 Sen. Kel Seliger (512) 463-0131 Sen. Florence Shapiro (512) 463-0108 Sen. Royce West (512) 463-0123 Sen. John Whitmire (512) 463-0115 Sen. Tommy Williams (512) 463-0104 Sen. Judith Zaffirini (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 me if you have any questions. We will keep you informed. Courtney Lyons-Garcia


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