This was going to be the session when legislators began weaning the Texas Department of Transportation off its decade-long reliance on debt and found a substantial and sustainable source of money to build and repair roads.
Gov. Rick Perry called for taking $3.7 billion from the state’s $12 billion rainy day fund and putting it into water and transportation projects — he didn’t say how much for each. Texas Department of Transportation Executive Director Phil Wilson said that, to do the job right, he needs an additional $4 billion a year and $1.6 billion for oil country roads under stress from heavy trucks in the current shale oil boom.
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Raising road money
Some of the proposals before the Legislature:
- Take up to $1.7 billion from the state rainy day fund and create a “transportation infrastructure fund.”
- Shift some of the $3.3 billion-a-year vehicle sales tax from the state’s general fund to highway spending.
- Increase the annual vehicle registration fee by as much as $60.
- Reallocate all or much of $1.5 billion in gas tax revenue from the Texas Department of Public Safety and other state needs to TxDOT.
- End, with voter approval, the allocation of 25 percent of gas tax revenue to K-12 education.