FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2015
Austin, Texas – Today, the Texas Senate approved Senator Robert Nichols' (R-Jacksonville) Senate Bill 5 and Senate Joint Resolution 5, which will constitutionally dedicate a portion of the existing sales tax on new and used automobiles to the State Highway Fund.
"Transportation infrastructure is a core function of government and its funding should be addressed," said Nichols. "By dedicating a source of funding which is predictable, constitutionally dedicated, transportation related , independent of fuel source and able to adjust to inflation, we can continue to construct and maintain Texas' highway infrastructure."
This bill authorizes that each fiscal year, the first $2.5 billion in vehicle sales tax revenue to be put into the state's general fund. The next $2.5 billion collected would go to the State Highway Fund, to be used for the states highway infrastructure. Any revenue collected beyond $5 billion a year would be split with 50 percent going to the State Highway Fund, 20 percent to education and 30 percent to the general fund.
Use of these dedicated funds in the State Highway Fund would be limited to the acquisition of right of ways, construction and maintenance of non-tolled roads and bridges. If approved, this proposal will give the Texas Department of Transportation a predictable revenue stream which they can use to implement long-range transportation plans.
As this is a constitutional amendment, it must pass each chamber with a two-thirds majority. If successful, citizens will then see it on the ballot in November 2016.
"I am thankful to Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick and my colleagues in the Legislature for their support," 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.