VIDEO: This animated crash course on Prop. 1 covers the basics in about three minutes: What does Prop 1 do? Will it increase my taxes? Can TxDOT use the money to build toll roads?
by BRAD ROLLINS
Hays County Judge Bert Cobb and his four precinct commissioners approved a measure on Tuesday urging residents to vote for a ballot proposition intended to pour billions of dollars biennially into fixing Texas’ deteriorating transportation infrastructure.
Voters will consider a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot that would permit lawmakers to use more tax revenue from the energy industry for road construction, reconstruction and maintenance. To keep pace with an exploding population, Texas Department of Transportation officials say they need an additional $5 billion annually — on top of its existing $10 billion budget — to keep traffic conditions from getting worse than they are now. Of the $5 billion that TxDOT officials want, $1 billion is simply to complete basic maintenance on existing roads, state transportation officials say.
Proposition 1 would redirect an estimated $1.7 billion annually from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to TxDOT’s highway fund. The amendment would also require TxDOT to use the money solely for building, rebuilding and maintaining roads, including right-of-way acquisition. The amendment prohibits use of the money for constructing or operating toll roads.
“Building roads is expensive and we currently have no sustainable funding source for our myriad road issues. Delaying construction will ultimately cost more in lives and dollars as well as frustration. Traveling will become even more difficult and time consuming in Central Texas,” said Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley, R-Wimberley, who chairs the six-county Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“Repurposing oil and gas tax revenue is the best solution available,” Conley said.
The ballot measure has won broad bipartisan support from politicians that include Hays County’s state legislators: Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo; Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels; and Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs. In addition, the proposition is endorsed by the Greater San Marcos Partnership, Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and the San Antonio Regional Mobility Coalition have also joined a heavy-hitting partnership of public and private organizations urging passage of the amendment.
COVER: A big rig travels along a stretch of Interstate 37 in Live Oak County where three miles of freeway frontage roads were converted to unpaved, loose gravel trails last summer. In July 2013, the Texas Department of Transportation announced its intention to strip pavement from 83 miles of highways to save on maintenance costs. FILE PHOTO by EDDIE SEAL FOR THE TEXAS TRIBUNE.
VIDEO: PRODUCED by TODD WISEMAN AND AMAN BATHEJA for THE TEXAS TRIBUNEEmail | Print