|Transportation Leaders Discuss How to Fund Texas Roadways|
|by Will Lutz||Tue, Oct 16, 2007, 01:40 pm|
In a roundtable discussion Oct. 12, the state’s top transportation leaders discussed the challenge of funding Texas’ roadways. The event, held by the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, featured Senate Transportation and Homeland Security committee chairman John Carona (R-Dallas), House Transportation committee chairman Mike Krusee (R-Round Rock) and Transportation Commissioner Ric Williamson.
The trio agreed that Texas has not done enough to invest in infrastructure. However, how to get the money to fund Texas highways is an area of great debate and conflict. Should we index the gas tax? Allow public-private partnerships? Build more toll roads? Toll existing roads?
Carona pointed out that the Legislature is now diverting approximately $1.5 billion this biennium out of the Highway Trust Fund to spend on other programs. Over one-third of the highway fund is diverted to other programs each year, he said. “That’s a serious problem, Carona said.
While the legislature is siphoning money from the fund, the costs of highway construction are spiraling up and up said Krusee.
Williamson said the commission recently decided to join hands with Carona in calling for indexing the gas tax. Carona has proposed indexing the gas tax to inflation or the consumer price index. While Williamson said TxDOT is now on the same side as Carona, Williamson said he believed the tax needed to be increased to 95 cents a gallon in order to generate the amount of revenue needed. However, he said he knows the public is not prepared to talk about the reality of Texas’ transportations needs.
Carona added that Proposition 12, on the ballot this November will give the agency $5 billion in bonding authority for new road projects. It was passed as a stop gap measure to keep new projects in the pipeline, he said. The bonds are backed by general revenue instead of the highway trust fund and would be used specifically for transportation purposes. However, the enabling legislation did not pass the legislature. Carona said when the legislature comes back in 2009, he hoped the enabling legislation would be written such that the bonds would be used for the backlog of road projects, not for toll roads.
Krusee, who has supported indexing the gas tax in the past, said he believes the method of financing our state's roads with the gas tax should be changed. "It's days are numbered," Krusee said. He said the state should look at a voluntary pilot program in Oregon that charged drivers per vehicle mile traveled in lieu of the motor fuels tax. A counter was placed in each vehicle to track how many miles were driven.
written by randye , October 16, 2007
Mr. Lutz or anybody,
Where is all that money going diverted from the highway fund? Before Carona talks about raising taxes he needs to explain that, not just say "what a shame, now let's talk tax hike".
written by Google is your friend , October 17, 2007
written by sal costello , October 17, 2007
Here comes the revenue hungry "TAX WOLF", rearing its head again with Proposition 12, which was carefully crafted to trick Texans to vote for debt, future tax increases and toll roads paid for with our tax dollars (a double tax).
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