FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 08/06/2013
THIRD SPECIAL SESSION COMES TO A CLOSE WITH THE PASSAGE OF HB 1 AND SJR 1
Stabilizing Transportation Funding and Protecting the Rainy Day Fund
AUSTIN - Last night, during its third-called special session, the Texas Legislature finally came to a consensus on how to increase funds for future transportation infrastructure projects, while still protecting the state's Economic Stabilization Fund (aka, the Rainy Day Fund).
House Bill 1, filed by Representative Joe Pickett, creates a select committee whose purpose is to determine a sufficient balance, or floor, for the Rainy Day Fund for each state fiscal biennium. The sufficient balance will have to be approved by a majority vote of both chambers. The bill also requires the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to identify a total savings of at least $100 million in funds appropriated to TxDOT for the 2014-15 state fiscal biennium, and mandates the money saved go toward paying down TxDOT's debt.
"Given that the state's population is expected to double within the next several decades," Representative Simmons said, "it’s imperative that we start working now to fix transportation problems from the past and begin addressing the transportation issues Texas will face in the near future."
Senate Joint Resolution 1, filed by Senator Robert Nichols, proposes a constitutional amendment to provide a stable source of funding for our state’s transportation infrastructure. Rather than only using fuel taxes, 50 percent of oil and gas taxes going to the Economic Stabilization Fund would be transferred to the State Highway Fund. Because this is a constitutional amendment, it must be approved by a majority of Texas voters in November 2014.
"I am very pleased with the outcome," Simmons said. "While this is only a temporary fix, these changes will allow the Texas Department of Transportation to operate and manage projects efficiently and predictably for the future. Now it is up to the voters to decide if it will become law."