This is the 2nd in a series of updates from the recent 84th Legislative Session. Construction and maintenance of state highways and roads creates a significant number of jobs, promotes commerce and industry, and facilitates statewide tourism. It is no surprise, then, that much time and energy in Austin revolves around transportation.
Texas’ budget, House Bill 1, will allocate approximately $7.4 Billion dollars to the State Highway Fund for 2016-2017. Additionally, if Senate Joint Resolution 5 passes–which will be voted on by all Texans this fall–a percentage of sales tax revenue, roughly $2.5 Billion, will be diverted to the State Highway Fund each year starting in 2018. This is much needed funding for our state’s infrastructure.
Along with securing funding for our roads, one of my priorities was to combat the proliferation of toll roads. North Texas will soon be home to the nation’s largest network of managed toll lanes, making it almost impossible for our citizens to commute to school or work without paying an additional tax, or toll. Our constituents are asking for an end to toll roads and relief from the current tolls in place. A core function of government is transportation, and our state needs to fulfill that duty. For that reason we created Toll Free Texas. We aim to bring transparency to the transportation planning process and encourage Texans to get involved.
Providing additional information on the transportation planning process was successful in changing the direction of our state’s transportation policies. The Dallas Morning News reported, “A critical tool is suddenly gone from the Texas transportation toolbox . . . It became a popular rallying cry for state lawmakers to declare war on highway tolls this year. They won that battle.” Speaker Joe Straus said, “We can and should shift more toward a pay-as-you-go approach, instead of tolls, when it makes sense.”
With the passage of House Bill 1, we required TxDOT to create a report on the elimination of toll roads. The report will include the amount of money needed to pay off the roads and a plan to eliminate them all together. The report will be released September 2016, and we are ready to review the results.
It is an honor to serve the people of District 70. If my office can be of assistance to you please feel free to contact us. Next week we will send out an update on Texas’ Budget for 2016-2017.
For God and Texas,