FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2013
Austin, Texas — Today, the Texas Senate approved Sen. Robert Nichols' (R-Jacksonville) resolution for a constitutional amendment to dedicate 50 percent of all oil and gas severance taxes currently transferred to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) to the state highway fund.
"We are facing 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 2 will go a long way in helping to resolve these problems."
According to estimates from the comptroller's office, SJR 2 could deposit as much as $850 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 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.
Because SJR 2 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.
"I am thankful for Governor Perry asking us to address this critical issue," said Nichols. "Our state's economy and much more depends upon having a safe and reliable road system."
Nichols, a former Texas transportation commissioner, currently serves as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. He has been working on Texas transportation issues in various capacities since 1997.