Sen. Nichols re-files transportation funding legislation in second special session

Sen. Nichols re-files transportation funding legislation in second special session
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POSTED: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 1:39pm

UPDATED: Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 3:24pm

Within minutes of a second special session being called yesterday, Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) filed SJR 1 for a constitutional amendment to dedicate 50 percent of all oil and gas severance taxes currently transferred to the Economic Stabilization Fund to the state highway fund.

"I am thankful for Governor Perry's leadership in calling this session to address such an important issue," said Nichols. "Our state's economy depends upon having a safe and reliable road system."

According to estimates from the comptroller’s office, SJR 1 could deposit as much as $900 million a year into the state highway fund. The resolution stipulates that the funds could only be used for constructing, maintaining and acquiring rights-of-way for non-tolled, public roadways. However, it is also careful to ensure a healthy balance is left in the ESF before transportation dollars are ever removed from the funding stream.

"We continue to face a serious crisis in transportation," said Nichols. "Our state’s population is increasing exponentially; our system is aging; traffic continues to rise; and funding for congestion relief will be at a 10 year low in a short two years. The state is also paying millions of dollars a year in debt service for transportation related debt. SJR 1 will go a long way in helping to resolve these problems."

Because SJR 1 is a constitutional amendment, it must pass each chamber with a two-thirds majority. If successful, citizens will then see it on the ballot this November.

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