Our roads need your vote

traffic2By Mary Alys Cherry

Texas is growing by leaps and bounds – 1,200 people each day – and our roads are not keeping pace. In fact, the Texas Department of Transportation is $5 billion short of what it needs – annually.

That’s where you come in. Texas needs your approval of Proposition 1 when you vote on Nov. 4.

What is Prop 1? It’s a state constitutional amendment approved by the Texas Legislature that would authorize disbursement from the state’s oil and gas production tax collections to the state highway fund. An estimated $1.7 billion would be transferred in the first year alone, according to the state comptroller. A few facts you should know about Prop 1:

  • The funds can only be used for new construction and preservation of the Texas highway system.
  • The funds cannot be used for toll roads.
  • Prop 1 will not raise taxes or fees on citizens or businesses.
  • It will reduce congestion.
  • It will create more jobs.
  • It will improve safety.
  • It will not create any new debt.
  • Prop 1 also requires TxDOT to identify $100 million in savings.
  • It begins to pay down the state’s debt.

The funds, distributed annually, will help TxDOT provide infrastructure to maintain a strong business climate and keep up with the growing population, job creation and economy — providing a critical first step in addressing Texas’ transportation needs.

The state gas tax is 20 cents per gallon. That has not changed since 1991 and 5 cents of that goes to education. As motor vehicles get better and better gas mileage, the amount of gas tax funds has dwindled as the cost of building roads has doubled.

The 2030 Committee – a group of business, academic and civic leaders – determined that the state needs to invest $315 billion over the next 20 years just to keep up with current congestion and maintenance levels.

Based on its current funding levels, the transportation agency has indicated it is $5 billion short in trying to meet the state’s needs. This despite the fact the average Texas driver pays $9.52 a month in state fuel taxes and another $50-$55 in registration fees.

Meanwhile, voter-approved financing of roads through bonds is nearing capacity, and the state is working hard to reduce public debt.

Your help is needed – your approval of Prop 1, which you’ll find at the end of your Nov. 4 ballot.

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