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Energy Taxes Now Flowing to Texas Highway Fund
As indicated last week in "Campaign 2014 Results: Transportation, Energy, Conservation Measure," the Texas Transportation Funding Amendment, Proposition 1 breezed by with 80 percent of voters supporting the popular measure.
According to Ballotpedia, passage of "(t)he measure diverted half of the general revenue derived from oil and gas taxes from the Economic Stabilization Fund [PDF], also known as the Rainy Day Fund, to the State Highway Fund for the purpose of providing transportation funding for repairs and maintenance of public roads."
"The measure will make about $1.7 billion a year available for highway projects, a figure which will fluctuate with the status of the state's energy industry," reports Newsradio 1200 WOAI. [Ballotpedia cites $1.2 billion annually].
Scott Haywood, who headed 'Move Texas Forward,' which pushed for approval of the proposition, says the funding will be available immediately. "This money is from the past year of oil and gas taxes, so it has already been collected," he said. "Hopefully it will be transferred into the transportation fund by the end of this year
One caveat, the measure "includes a restriction that none of the money can be used for toll roads," which are not at all popular in north Texas.
A top funding priority for the State Highway Fund will be repairing the state's crumbling "farm-to-market roads," particularly in the Eagle Ford Shale where much of the oil and gas tax revenue providing the new road funds are generated.
While the new road revenue is welcomed, at least $5 billion a year is needed for road repair and replacement, notes WOAI. "Lawmakers when they meet in January are expected to consider two other measures:
- designating 100% of the vehicle sales tax to highways, and
- ending 'diversions' of gas tax money to other uses." [as voters in Maryland and Wisconsin approved on Nov. 4]
Noticeably absent is even a consideration of raising the state's 20-cent gas tax, 42nd lowest in nation, not raised since 1991. The U.S. average is 28.55 cents, according to the American Petroleum Institute [PDF].