If you read this blog, you know that roads and their funding are a major issue for Texans and Texas politicians. We recently posted an article in which Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) expressed his concerns that Texas was taking the wrong approach by using debt to finance road construction. Voters are being asked to approve a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that will transfer $1.7 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to help reduce Texas road debt.
Now we read on the WOAI 1200 News Radio website that Bill Hammond, President of the Texas Association of Business, thinks we should increase vehicle registration fees by $50 a year to help fund roads. And that's not all, he suggests: "Ending the non educational diversions, going to a design build concept, and taking part of the sales tax from motor vehicles and designating that to roads." All ideas that have been suggested before. But remember, ending the "educational diversions" means legislators have to find more money for education somewhere else and if motor vehicle sales taxes are dedicated to roads, that general fund revenue must also be replaced. There were no suggestions on how to do that.
The report also mentions the possibility of raising the state gasoline tax, as mentioned by Eltife in the earlier article.
There is a big BUT in the Article: "But even that amount isn't enough to get the job done, according to Dave Ellis of the Texas Transportation Insitute, who says anywhere between $4 and $7 billion a year is needed." I have frequently heard and quoted the $4 billion number, but this is the first time I've read about a possible $7 billion annual need – WOW – that's 75% more!
Gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Greg Abbott has also called for ending the educational diversions and dedicating the vehicle sales tax to roads, but so far has refrained from suggesting a gasoline tax increase.
Eltife was not optimistic about legislators doing any of the above during the 2015 session. So we may still have roads that go bump in the night – and the day too!
Read more: $50 Hike in Car Registration Fees Proposed.