Texas any closer to transportation funding solution?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, July 12, 2013

Texas lawmakers continue to meet to discuss how to address transportation funding needs throughout the state.

The Senate voted on Thursday, July 11, to approve a measure that would make more money available for roads and bridges. Senate Joint Resolution 1 seeks to amend the Texas constitution to tap the state’s oil and gas severance tax to boost revenue.

Specifically, it would divert to transportation about $900 million in severance tax money that is earmarked for the Rainy Day Fund.

Officials at the Texas Department of Transportation say they need $4 billion more per year to maintain existing roads.

Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, said the measure is a step in the right direction toward finding a long-term transportation funding solution.

Meeting in a second special session, this week’s action marks the third go-around for lawmakers this year to address transportation funding. The first special session wrapped up in late June before lawmakers could take a final vote on the funding plan.

SJR1 awaits consideration in the House Appropriations Committee. If approved by lawmakers, it would be included on the fall ballot for voters to make the final decision on the redirection of funds.

However, House lawmakers may not let the issue get that far. Other options to help eat into the funding gap are under consideration.

The House Commerce Committee voted Thursday to advance an effort that would undo a requirement that one-fourth of the revenue from collection of the state’s 20-cent-per-gallon fuel tax be used for schools. Instead, House Joint Resolution 2 would allow voters to decide whether to keep the estimated $900 million annually for transportation uses.

Education wouldn’t lose out on the money. It would be replaced with funds from the Rainy Day Fund.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Texas, click here.

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