Texas Senate Transportation Chairman Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and House Transportation Chairman Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) both confirmed on May 26 that the state legislature had reached a compromise between two bills to increase transportation funding.
According to the Texas Tribune, lawmakers will place a constitutional amendment on the Texas ballot asking voters to approve a two-pronged approach, which includes:
- Dedicating $2.5 billion from the state general sales tax to the state’s transportation fund starting in 2018 and ending in 2033; and
- Committing 35 percent of motor vehicle sales tax revenue over $5 billion a year starting in 2020 and expiring in 2030, expected to generate an estimated $250 million in the first year and to increase over time.
Lawmakers placed several caveats on the measure, including an option that would allow the Legislature to reduce either funding portion by 50 percent with a 2/3 majority vote. Additionally, revenue from the general sales tax element of the compromise could cease if the tax collects less than $28 billion in a fiscal year. Legislators also included an option to extend both elements of the compromise in 10 year increments.
Now that a compromise has been reached, both bills must return to their legislative houses to be modified and voted on. If approved before the 2015 legislation session ends on June 1, the deal will go before Governor Greg Abbott (R).