Wednesday , 22 November 2017

McKinney Debates: Should Texas Use Reserves to Fund Roadways?

By TSB Staff

Two state senators have filed a resolution to allocate a portion of the state’s savings account (aka the rainy day fund) to fund transportation. If passed, the voters will ultimately have to decide to give the funding a green light. Vote in the poll below.

The state’s recently passed two-year budget includes $400 million for transportation, but TXDoT said it needs $4 billion per year just to maintain current roadways.

From The Texas Tribune:

The Texas Department of Transportation has said it needs $4 billion in extra revenue this session just to maintain current congestion. During the regular session, it received $400 million in extra funding to the state’s highway fund for the next two-year budget cycle.

The state’s Rainy Day Fund is currently drawing billions of dollars a year from oil and gas production taxes. Under Senate Joint Resolution 2, filed by Nichols and Williams, half of the fund’s future revenue would go to address road construction and maintenance around the state. Williams estimated that the plan would raise nearly $1 billion of extra revenue for TxDOT annually.

“I think it’s a fairly reliable and robust way to fund our highways,” Williams said. “It does it in a financially responsible way and wouldn’t have a detrimental effect on the budget.”

Republican critics are sure to question whether the plan jeopardizes the state’s financial stability. Throughout the regular session, Perry and Republicans in the House expressed concern about drawing too much from the Rainy Day Fund, which was projected to grow to nearly $12 billion by 2015 if lawmakers had left it alone. They ultimately approved measures spending $3.9 billion from the fund, leaving about $8 billion under current projections. Under Williams and Nichols’ plan, the fund’s projected balance falls to $7 billion in 2015, Williams said.

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