TAoT Honors Eight Lawmakers for Leadership

July 27, 2011

 

The Transportation Advocates of Texas and the Alliance for I-69 Texas hosted an awards luncheon in Austin to honor key legislators whose effective leadership helped positively impact Texas transportation policy during the 82nd legislative session. Despite immense budgetary challenges, these legislators helped advance significant incremental financing steps and set the stage for an important dialogue during the interim about how to implement a long-term, stable source of additional revenue to fund transportation infrastructure.


Following a keynote speech by then Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Deidre Delisi, Jim Reed, Chairman of the Transportation Advocates of Texas and Chairman of the San Antonio Mobility Coalition announced several awards.


Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), who served as Chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, Senator Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) and Representative Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) were honored for their efforts to make the remaining $3 billion in voter-approved Proposition 12 bonds available, which will give the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) the ability to continue to invest in new roadways until 2014.

 

Representative Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) and Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) were applauded for their efforts to greatly increase the power of Transportation Reinvestment Zones (TRZs) that now allow incremental ad valorem property tax and local sales tax revenue in a defined area to be used by local governments in partnership with TxDOT to build transportation projects important to their regions.  In addition, they partnered to successfully pass a bill that gives authority to TxDOT, counties and regional tollway authorities to enter into funding agreements to help expedite environmental reviews.

 

Senator Nichols was further recognized for his efforts over the last three sessions to guide a bill to the finish line that establishes primacy on local projects and reforms the process by which public private partnerships are done on transportation projects in the state. And Representative Pickett was credited with successfully guiding through a constitutional amendment that will allow counties to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes, which the voters will vote on in fall 2011.
               
Representative Larry Phillips (R-Sherman), who served as Chairman of House Transportation, as well as Representative Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) and Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen), were recognized for their persistence in passing a substantive TxDOT Sunset Bill with less acrimony than previous sessions. The bill included reasonable reforms and an important authorization of certain Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDAs) that will allow projects to be built more quickly through the availability of private equity.  

 

More than 75 people attended the event to celebrate the transportation financing achievements of the session and the legislators who helped make it a success.

 

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

While many transportation priorities were advanced during the 82nd legislative session, the Transportation Advocates of Texas continue to prepare for the 83rd legislative session by building a growing coalition of community leaders across the state who are committed to working towards development of sustainable funding sources that will create jobs and economic growth while relieving the burden of traffic congestion.