State Senator Kevin Eltife: Time to Properly Fund Transportation

Note:  This is taken from the Daily Buzz of Quorum Report, a newsletter that covers the goings on at the Capitol and is by subscription.  Therefore, we are unable to provide the entire article.  But, boy howdy halleluja y’all, a legislator has been honest with us about needing more taxes (not tolls) for roads and we should pay as we go, like we used to!

Senator argues more debt for roads is wrong direction; even if it means taxes, the conservative path is to pay as you go

The State of Texas is at a crossroads, and the decisions we make this Legislative Session will affect Texans for years to come. We have spent the last ten years funding a large portion of our transportation needs with debt, now totaling $13 billion. The amount of state debt issued in all categories has more than doubled in the last ten years. You will hear many boast that we have not raised taxes during this same time, but I would argue that this debt, coupled with interest, is a tax on future generations. If we do nothing this Legislative Session to address this debt, it will be the year 2045 before we pay off the $27 billion in debt plus interest owed for transportation projects.

Coming up with the money to pay for debt and interest has caused us to fall behind on the funding necessary to maintain our roads and to pay for new projects. The Texas Department of Transportation states that we need a minimum of $4 billion more per year to keep up with our transportation needs. There are several options on the table, including dedicating motor vehicle sales taxes to transportation, increasing the gas tax, increasing vehicle registration fees, and my proposal, SJR 47, which would let voters decide whether to temporarily increase the sales tax and dedicate the revenue to retire our transportation debt. But some in state government are calling for more debt and believe borrowing some $41 billion more over the next twenty years is a solution. Some want to sell bonds with a 100 year maturity. With interest rates at record lows it is very easy for elected officials to fund government with debt and avoid raising new revenue.

The rest of Senator Kevin Eltife’s column can be found in today’s R&D Department.

Copyright April 24, 2013, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved

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