Tag Archives: Rainy Day Fund
Stop using road money (paid for by motorists) for transit, rail, and bike paths that motorists don’t use. That goes for diverting both federal and state gas tax revenues. The Texas Mobility Fund is being used to build street cars, toll roads, and dredge our ports, when it should be used to fix our freeways and keep them toll-free. Adopting a transportation policy of ‘pay-as-you-go’ would be more fiscally responsible.
Have you ever had a kid ask for seconds during a meal before he’s even finished what’s on his plate? Well, that’s what the Texas legislature is asking of voters on November 5. Lawmakers want Texans to pass a constitutional amendment, Proposition 6, to approve more funding for water projects. A similar measure narrowly passed in November 2011 for a $6 billion revolving fund to loan money to local government entities for water infrastructure, outside constitutional debt limitations.
It’s dog eat dog as the fight over scarce road money gets uglier in Texas. At a recent Senate Select Committee on Transportation Funding hearing, the Senate Transportation Committee Chair Robert Nichols took issue with DeWitt County Judge Daryl Fowler’s comments that urban areas of the state are ‘pillaging’ road funds he believes are largely being provided by rural areas where the oil shale boom has swelled the state’s coffers of oil and gas severance taxes to windfall levels.
It’s a wrap. After over 200 days in session this year, the Texas legislature finally agreed upon a transportation funding bill that will go to the voters for approval in November 2014. The Constitutional amendment would divert half of the oil and gas severance tax that funds the state’s emergency fund, or Rainy Day Fund, to roads, giving the highway department a potential boost of $1.2 billion annually. Lawmakers readily acknowledge it’s a stop gap measure since the agency needs $4 billion more per year.
The second called special session of the Texas legislature began with all eyes on Texas’ fetal pain bill after a filibuster scuttled it – transportation appearing an afterthought, but this one ended in yet another flop. Texas Governor Rick Perry immediately called a third special session 30 minutes later to address transportation funding. State lawmakers had initially agreed on a road funding bill at the end of the first special session and took up the same bill in the second.
While the Texas House and Senate are busy competing over which chamber can come up with the most funding for public schools, another top priority of state government has taken a back seat – roads.
Texans from across the state recently converged at the capitol in Austin to stress the need for Texas Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Speaker Joe Straus, and House and Senate budget writers to prevent the most fiscally sound, long-term road funding solutions from being held hostage to more tolls, debt, and tax hikes.