Tensions between the House and Senate over education funding have hit an all-time high this session, and that along with an added provision related to fees charged to overweight 18 wheelers worries Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, because of the transportation dollars tied to those same spending bills.
At this point in the legislative calendar many bills are facing a looming demise, but Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, said he has found another way to get money for transportation needs.
"One of the obvious ways is to take some money in the budget and devote it to our energy related zones that have borne the burden of most of the oil and gas production. They are just simply deteriorating and they’re not safe anymore," Darby said.
At this late stage in the legislative session, most bills that haven't made it out of at least one chamber are left to the wind, but there is still a chance for a bill with bipartisan support that proposes to provide immigrants without legal documentation a driver’s permit.
Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, is carrying the bill, which was authored by Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands.
The Senate has passed a bill that prohibits the state’s transportation department from turning free roads into toll roads, but the "do-or-die" deadline is approaching fast for it to clear the House in time.
Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, authored Senate Bill 1029, which addresses the conversion of existing state roads into tollways. She said there are several highways throughout the state being eyed for this type of tolling, one of which is Hwy. 281.
Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, a house leader on the Legislative Budget Board, said the joint committee has hit snags in several areas, but has reached a tentative agreement on some key spending issues in regard to Senate Bill 1, the state budget bill.
"Hopefully we will have an agreement sometime today on public education," Pitts said, adding that they were discussing $3.2 billion for public education would be taken from the state general revenue and property tax appraisals.
The Pre-K 4 SA board of directors has chosen its transportation service to take students to and from the model education centers.
Four firms competed for the contract to provide transportation services for San Antonio's Pre-K 4 SA program.
Two of them were national companies - Durham Transportation, and First Student, Inc. One was a small, family-owned Texas company - All Aboard Transportation, based in Tom Bean. The final one hails from San Antonio - Star Shuttle.
A bill in the Texas House calls for an increase in vehicle registration fees in order to help fix Texas roads and pay down debt.
Rep. Drew Darby, R- San Angelo, said his bill does away with fund diversions by reallocating the portion of the state’s highway fund that currently goes towards the DMV and DPS and has that money go toward road construction.
During the Texas Lyceum Conference on Transportation Friday, Gov. Rick Perry announced his plan to fix funding issues with transportation costs.
"On every car or truck sold in the state of Texas, we take in sales tax. The amount we take in on those sales is increasing steadily. I propose we dedicate the future growth in sales tax collected on motor vehicles to transportation infrastructure," Perry said.
The governor said Texas should take advantage of the state’s relatively low debt to fix roads, like those in the Eagle Ford Shale and Burnet Shale areas of the state.