House Panel Approves Transportation Funding Bill With Amended Changes
A transportation panel of seven state representatives heard from the head of the Texas Department of Transportation about the transportation bill that passed the Senate and how it will benefit the State Highway Fund beyond the next two years.
"If we don’t increase our resources now, our production in dollar terms will fall to levels not seen since the early 2000s," said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson. "Meanwhile, more and more people move to Texas [and] congestion worsens."
Wilson told the seven-member panel that TxDOT currently needs $4 billion a year: $1 billion for road maintenance and $3 billion for new road construction.
Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, revised the legislation to require that TxDOT find money in their current budget to pay down the agency’s debt.
"So what we are proposing in this language would be that the Texas Department of Transportation, during this biennium, find through efficiencies and savings $100 million," Pickett said.
Wilson said these type of reductions were possible.
Another major change shifts the responsibility of deciding whether there is enough money in the Rainy Day Fund from the legislative budget board to the joint committee set up by Speaker of the House Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Daivd Dewhurst.
The bill has been cleared by the Senate and faces a final vote in the House before it goes to voters this November. If approved by voters, the bill would provide the State Highway Fund an estimated $800 million per year.
The full House is set to vote on the bill this coming Monday afternoon.