AASHTO Journal, 6 November 2015
Texas voters approved a ballot proposition Nov. 3 that starting in 2018 could begin steering billions of dollars more into transportation improvements from taxes that were already on the books.
The Texas Department of Transportation said Proposition 7’s approval by more than 80 percent of voters “is further evidence that transportation is an essential priority for citizens of the state” and that it “added momentum toward establishing reliable funding to meet continually growing transportation needs.” The measure provides that once state sales tax revenue exceeds $28 billion in a fiscal year, the next $2.5 billion of revenue will be directed to the State Highway Fund. That feature kicks in for 2018. Then, beginning in 2020, the highway fund will also 35 percent of revenue from motor vehicle sales and rental tax after the first $5 billion in collections.
In addition, the Dallas Morning News reported, none of the new revenue can be spent on toll road projects, after years of public complaints and push back in the Legislature over the state’s array of tolled lanes.
“We are grateful to Gov. Abbott and the Legislature for making transportation a priority and giving Texans a chance to approve this measure that will ultimately help all of us get around our great state much easier,” said Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Tryon Lewis.
“Now that the people of Texas have spoken, the Texas Transportation Commission stands ready to work with local leaders, communities and planning organizations to deliver roadway projects that are needed to ease congestion, address safety and maintain our extensive transportation system.”
TxDOT’s announcement said that as voters entrust more funding to highways, the agency “continues its commitment to delivering needed roadway projects. Since last November when voters approved Proposition 1, which added a portion of state oil/gas taxes to the highway fund, TxDOT has awarded more than 125 projects to help ease congestion, maintain our system and improve the safety of roadways across Texas.”
State Senate Transportation Chairman Robert Nichols said that with the funding from Proposition 7, “TxDOT will have a predictable revenue stream with which they will be able to implement long-range transportation plans for our state.”