Nichols passes legislation to dedicate billions to Texas roads

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Special to The Leader

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Legislature has approved Senator Robert Nichols’ (R-Jacksonville) Senate Joint Resolution 5, which will constitutionally dedicate approximately $3 billion per year to the State Highway Fund (SHF). As this is a constitutional amendment, it will be sent to the voters in November 2015.
“I am thankful to Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick and my colleagues in the Legislature for their support,” said Nichols. “If passed by the voters, this legislation will be the largest single increase in transportation funding in Texas history.”
This constitutional amendment will dedicate a deposit of $2.5 billion per year to the SHF, to build non tolled roads and bridges, as long as our state’s economy continues to grow.
In addition, each fiscal year beginning in 2020, 35 percent of all Motor Vehicle Sales, Use and Rental Taxes revenues, in excess of $5 billion, will be deposited into the SHF for the same use.
It is estimated the combination of these deposits will grow to approximately $4 billion per year within 15 years, adjusting for population growth and inflation. In addition, there are protections in place to ensure that in times of recession, the Legislature has the ability to reduce a portion of these deposits by a 2/3 vote of both chambers.
“With the progress the 83rd Legislature made, the overwhelming support from the voters on Proposition 1 last November, this sessions budget and SJR 5, the State’s transportation funding is going to be where it needs to be in the future,” said Nichols.
Use of these dedicated funds in the State Highway Fund would be limited to 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.
Nichols, a former Texas transportation commissioner, currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. He has worked on Texas transportation issues in various capacities since 1997.