TAOT Supports Senate's Proposed Budget

 

In written testimony presented to the Texas Senate Finance Committee, the Transportation Advocates of Texas (TAOT) applauds lawmakers for including the full amount of voter approved highway funding in their proposed budget for the next two years (FY 20-21).

 

TOAT notes that Prop 1 and Prop 7 funding is now the primary component of TxDOT’s 10-year transportation plan (UTP) as well as for the 10-year regional plans developed by the state’s metropolitan planning organizations.

 

“With the additional funding, TxDOT has been able to move forward on a number of major projects through what has been termed the Texas Clear Lanes program.  While not sufficient to fund all major needed projects in both urban and rural regions, the Proposition 1 and 7 funding provides funding to move forward on a least a significant portion of the projects needed to address the state’s rapid population and employment growth,” TAOT notes.

 

TAOT is a non-profit coalition of local governments, mobility coalitions, , port authorities, economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, regional alliances, state associations and employers dedicated to helping find solutions to the mobility challenges facing Texas. 

 

The coalition also observed that the budget as presented diverts no funding from the State Highway Fund, a practice that was discontinued during the 2015 legislative session.  For the 20 years prior to that session, legislative diversion resulted in a total loss of more than $20 billion that otherwise might have been used to build and maintain the state’s highways.

 

ELIMINATE EXPIRATION DATES

 

TAOT called on lawmakers to eliminate the expiration or sunset dates for both Propositions 1 and 7. By statute Proposition 1 expires in just five years and Proposition 7 a few years later.  TAOT points out that allowing these voter-approved dedicated revenues to expire would leave Texas with almost no funding to invest in needed highway capacity improvements and would likely delay or prevent completion of the many multi-year highway projects that are programmed during the next 10 years with Proposition 1 and 7 funding. 

 

TAOT points out that there are a number of priority major projects with a very high dollar cost – such as the IH 35 project envisioned through the Austin area with itself has a price tag of about $8 billion.  For these mega-projects, TAOT encourages legislators to retain options for tolling and managed lanes for these projects – the cost of which greatly exceeds anticipated funding flowing to the particular region where the projects are located.

 

The testimony was offered by Drew Campbell, Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition and TAOT Vice-Chair Legislative Relations, and Victor Boyer, San Antonio Mobility Coalition and TAOT Vice-Chair Membership/Regional Coordination.

 

1/31/19