FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/15/2014
REP. SIMMONS SUPPORTS ENDING DIVERSIONS FROM THE STATE HIGHWAY FUND
Legislator Draws Attention to the Importance of Prioritized Spending and Budget Transparency
AUSTIN – Yesterday, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus announced that the House will propose a budget next year that uses all of the money in the State Highway Fund for transportation instead of sending some of those dollars to other state agencies.
Various taxes and fees, such as the gas tax and drivers’ licenses fee, go into the State Highway Fund to pay for transportation. But for almost 80 years, some of that money has also helped fund agencies not directly related to transportation, such as the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Office of State Administrative Hearings.
By ending these diversions from the State Highway Fund, the Texas Legislature could increase funding for roads by $1.3 billion over two years.
"I support the Speaker's initiative to pass a budget that ensures transportation dedicated revenues are used only for their intended purpose – transportation," said Rep. Ron Simmons upon hearing the announcement. "As I have said since I decided to enter public service, Texas does not have a revenue problem, we have a spending priority problem. I am glad to be part of a legislature that is working toward solving that problem."
With the state's population expected to double within the next fifty years, funding for transportation infrastructure projects has become an area of focus. Governor Perry called the 83rd Texas Legislature back for three special sessions following the end of the 2013 regular session to address transportation infrastructure project funding. A consensus was finally reached during the third-called special session, resulting in the passage of HB 1 and SJR 1.
HB 1 established the House Select Committee on Transportation Funding, Expenditures and Finance to examine a variety of issues related to transportation funding, such as the reliability of transportation funding sources and whether the Texas Department of Transportation is using taxpayer dollars efficiently and appropriately. Simmons was one of nine Texas House members appointed to the Select Committee.
"I am honored to serve on the Select Committee on Transportation Funding, Expenditures and Finance," said Simmons. "We are already hard at work discussing the best methods for assuring our road system is second to none in the country, and how to do so in a fiscally conservative manner."