The constitutional amendment providing for the use and dedication of certain money transferred to the state highway fund to assist in the completion of transportation construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation projects, not to include toll roads.
Prop 1, on the ballot November 4, would take half of the oil and gas severance tax currently collected on oil and gas production (that normally goes to the state’s Rainy Day Fund) and send it to the state highway fund for the next 10 years.
A more in-depth look at the structural road funding shortfall and the pros and cons of Prop 1’s role in it can be found here. Today, the concern isn’t about whether or not Prop 1 is the right approach to address the shortfall, but rather about something that popped up in theDallas Morning News which said, “A caveat in Proposition 1 forbids the extra funds, which could equal about $1.7 billion a year, from being used on toll projects. But Bill Hale, TxDOT’s engineer operations director for metro districts, said a connection to the Trinity Parkway (toll road) wouldn’t be barred from using the funds because the project itself isn’t tolled.”
TxDOT spokesman Tony Hartzel then quipped: “That’s his take on it.”
That’s his ‘take’ on it? How many times have citizens watched legislative committees, particularly when TxDOT was under sunset review from 2009-2011, only to learn TxDOT’s ‘interpretation’ of the law was so obviously contrary to that of lawmakers who actually write it? TxDOT let the cat out of the bag. Once again, it’s up to its usual tricks and before the voters even go to the polls. Though the law says they cannot use Prop 1 funds for toll roads, they will find every loophole possible to wiggle in and fund wasteful projects, especially those related to toll projects, that are simply for economic development or driven by special interests.