FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/03/2015
Representative Jeff Leach files House Bill 1030 and House Bill 1031 to provide substantial transportation funding and truth in budgeting
This week, State Representative Jeff Leach filed HB 1030 and HB 1031, both aimed at providing much-needed funding for transportation infrastructure projects while also increasing local control and prioritizing transparency measures within areas of the state budget - all without raising taxes or fees. Both measures would provide Texas state and local leaders with further tools to address our region's growing infrastructure needs and result in a more honest and open budget, which Representative Leach has made a hallmark of his legislative agenda.
Representative Leach stated, "Adequately funding our long-term transportation infrastructure needs has been, and will continue to be, one of my top priorities in the Legislature. I believe it is incumbent upon our legislative body to re-prioritize transportation spending in the state budget process, and that starts with thoughtfully reviewing a number of funding options. HB 1030 and 1031 provide more truth in budgeting by utilizing existing funds that are merely used to certify the budget and properly allocate these funds towards roadway improvements."
After hearing concerns from local community leaders, Representative Leach filed HB 1030 to provide more truth in budgeting and free up existing revenue for local transportation projects. Specifically, HB 1030 reforms the Low Income Vehicle Repair, Retrofit & Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Program (LIRAP), an opt-in program available to 16 counties and administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality (TCEQ). One aspect of LIRAP is designed to provide financial assistance for those who possess vehicles that do not pass emissions inspections. Member counties currently pay into the system, expecting to receive a return on their investment towards Local Initiative Projects (LIPs), which are designed and funded to improve air quality by alleviating traffic congestion at the local level. Consequently, many member counties only receive a fraction of their pay-in, and as result, have little leeway on how this money is spent. For instance, in 2014, Collin County paid in $ 3.15 million and received a return of $381,000. HB 1030 would reform the current program to ensure that member counties receive a proper return on their investment, while providing counties with more latitude on how LIPs are utilized and greater control of the funds.
This legislation is strongly supported by Collin County Judge Keith Self. Self, also an executive board member of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, stated, "These funds are collected for a specific purpose, yet only a small fraction are used for that intended purpose. Because of this, Collin County has opted out of imposing these fees on our taxpayers. With the passage of HB 1030, Collin County would have a real opportunity to reassess taking part in this program."
HB 1031 would provide an additional funding source for road projects to relieve traffic congestion in the most heavily traveled areas across the state without any new or increased taxes or fees. Simply put, it would free up certain dedicated accounts that are currently used to certify the budget - over $1 billion - and allocate these funds towards alleviating traffic congestion in order to improve air quality.
Born and raised in Plano, Representative Leach graduated from Plano Senior High before attending Baylor University and went on to earn his law degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. Jeff practices at the law firm of Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C and Dallas. He and his wife Becky, a small business owner, are the proud parents of three young children and are active members of Prestonwood Baptist Church. Leach represents portions of Plano, Allen, Richardson and Dallas in Collin County.