Rep. Joe Pickett

 


 

 

 

TxDOT Ready to Put Prop.1 Funds to Work

 

January 15, 2015

 

The numbers are in and $1.7 billion in oil and natural gas production tax revenues for 2014 have been transferred to the State Highway Fund.  TxDOT is ready to put that money to work.

 

That was the point made by Jeff Austin III, member of the Texas Transportation Commission, as he addressed a large gathering from around the state attending a reception hosted by the Transportation Advocates of Texas.


Austin thanked the public and private transportation advocates from across the spectrum for supporting voter approval of Proposition 1.  He had special praise for Rep. Joe Pickett of El Paso who spent many days on the road in 2014 explaining why passage of Prop. 1 was important.


“The voters sent a message to the Legislature:  Transportation is important in Texas,” Austin said.


He said the Transportation Commission will be talking about funding allocations how to spend it on highway preservation, energy sector damage and traffic congestion throughout the state.


Austin emphasized that there is still of very large funding gap that all transportation advocates must be focused on in the current session of the Texas Legislature.  He stressed the need to talk to lawmakers about the state’s long-term needs.


Rep. Pickett said he is encouraged by the fact that the governor-elect, the lieutenant governor-elect and the House speaker – “the big three” – have been saying positive things about addressing transportation funding.  He suggested that if those leaders can get together with some idea then members of the House and Senate can carry them forward as the “lightning rods” to help get them passed.


Pickett encouraged the large gathering of transportation advocates to remind state leaders what they said on the campaign trail and in their acceptance addresses.


“Let’s keep the momentum going – this still is not enough.  You are going to help everyone grow the confidence to go on with the second and third steps,” he said, referring to needed incremental funding sources beyond Prop. 1.


He said that while it is apparent that revenues from oil and gas production taxes will be down in 2015 because of lower oil prices, it is also true that Texans are driving 10% to 15% more and that will translate into higher fuel tax revenues that were likely when gasoline prices were over $3 a gallon.


John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director, said the TxDOT leadership knows that without groups like TAoT the voters would not have been as well educated and the vote on Prop. 1 might have been much different.  He thanked the audience for being good advocates for transportation and encouraged them to work with TxDOT to continue to make Texas a great place to live, work and raise families.