Transportation bill...too little, too late?
It’s one of those mysteries of Texas.
We love our cars, trucks and freedom.
But we can’t seem to find a way to pay for the roads they drive on.
Texas has some of the finest roads in the country according to a recent national survey.
But they didn’t come free, or cheap or without debt…lots of debt.
“That’s the problem,” SAYS Senator Kevin Eltife. “We’ve floated about 12-13 billion in debt in the last 10 years. And it’s going to take about 28-billion to pay that back.’
The Legislature has been trying to find a formula for dealing with the cost of maintaining the system we have, much less enlarging it.
And a bill has just passed the House.
It will tap the Rainy Day Fund for a total of $800-million a year, which sounds like a lot until you realize how much we need.
“It’s only a small fix,” Eltife says. “It’s a band aid. It gets us maybe another year down the road. We need 4-billion a year just to maintain what we have and maintain the congestion level we have right now. That’s not relieving congestion in the state. If this were to pass, and the voters approved it, and everything went perfect, we’d still need 3.2-billion per year in new money.”
The current bill goes to the Senate now, where there are expected to be many changes. Then it goes to the voters in the form of a Constitutional Amendment.
But Kevin Eltife says, it’s time to bite the bullet and do the responsible thing, before the pile of debt is too deep.
“We have funded our roads with a credit card,” he told us. “And I’ve said it a million times, I’d much rather us have paid cash like we do in Tyler with the sales tax, but that means a tax increase. And I still say, the conservative thing would be to raise taxes pay cash and have no debt. At some point we’re going to have to get back on a pay as you go basis.”