Ted Houghton, Chairman

Texas Transportation Commission

Chairman Houghton Talks About Funding Options

 

August 12, 2012

 

Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton has stepped forward to offer his ideas on how Texas might fund some of the challenging transportation demands facing the state. He did not suggest increasing state taxes or fees.

 

Speaking in Houston on August 8 he proposed that lawmakers consider using part of the state's Rainy Day Fund to create a separate account to finance roads and other infrastructure projects. The Houston Chronicle reported that Houghton suggested that the state has the opportunity to create an infrastructure fund of about $3 billion.

 

Houghton noted that Houston, the DFW Metroplex and the rest of Texas face staggering transportation needs that the state cannot meet with current funding sources. Those include fuels taxes, vehicle registration fees, other fees, private participation in toll projects and debt.

 

The Rainy Day Fund is expected to grow to $8.1 billion by September 1st. The fund is generated largely from oil and gas production taxes.

 

Back in February, Chairman Houghton talked about the possibility of using higher vehicle registration fees as one way to raise more revenue for highways. Speaking to a joint meeting of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition and the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition, he also said he did not think an increase in fuels taxes would be considered by the Legislature in 2013. During his Houston remarks Houghton said an increase in registration fees is also not likely.

 

Gov. Rick Perry's office did not rule out the Rainy Day Fund option saying the governor's position on preserving a strong Rainy Day Fund hasn't changed and that Houghton's recommendation doesn't conflict with Perry's because it could be considered a one-time expense.

 

Houghton outlined the billions of dollars worth of transportation projects underway in the Houston area. He stressed that the city has very large future transportation needs and that the state faces a major challenge in finding ways to fund needed projects across the state.