FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/01/2015
HOUSE PASSES HB 20 TO ENSURE STATE'S TRANSPORTATION FUNDING DECISIONS ARE OBJECTIVE AND TRANSPARENT
AUSTIN – House Bill 20, filed by State Representative Ron Simmons, received overwhelming support from members of the Texas House on Friday. Among other measures, HB 20 requires the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to provide information regarding transportation funding decisions in a manner that is accessible and understandable to the public.
"I filed House Bill 20 to provide a framework to ensure transportation dollars are administered in an objective, transparent manner with accountability for every dollar spent," Simmons said while laying the bill out on the House floor. "I'm sure you will agree that our intention is not to provide TxDOT with a $5 billion blank check."
TxDOT has publicly articulated the need for an additional $5 billion per year for highway investments in order to maintain 2010 road condition and congestion levels since the 2013 Legislative Session. The legislature responded in 2013 by proposing a constitutional amendment that was approved by nearly 80 percent of Texas voters in 2014 and provided an additional $1.7 billion in transportation funding. However, more funding is still needed.
"While there have been numerous efforts to increase transportation funding this session," Simmons continued, "public concern regarding how and why transportation funds are spent continues to grow. This places the infrastructure needs of the state at odds with the public desire for greater transparency and efficiency."
HB 20 requires TxDOT to implement a performance-based planning and programming process to provide the legislature with indicators that quantify and qualify progress toward attaining department goals and objectives. HB 20 also requires the department to establish a scoring system to prioritize projects seeking state funding. The bill establishes temporary House and Senate select committees to provide oversight as the provisions of the bill are implemented by TxDOT.
"House Bill 20 is about oversight, transparency, and accountability," Simmons concluded. "As legislators, we have a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of this great state to ensure tax payer dollars are spent appropriately."
HB 20 was voted out of the House on May 1, 2015 with almost unanimous support. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.