Texas Senate, House propose differing transportation funding plans

(Photo: Shawn Yates / Flickr)(Photo: Shawn Yates / Flickr)

The Texas Senate and House have radically different ideas about how to raise funds for highway spending, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The Texas Senate on Thursday passed Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR1), which proposes earmarking a portion of the severance taxes collected from the state’s oil and gas industry to fund transportation.

The proposed constitutional amendment would give the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) $900 million a year beginning November 2014, rather than sending that money to the state’s Rainy Day Fund. SJR1 will go to voters in November.

The Texas House, however, has a different plan for raising the state’s transportation funds. House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR2), which would remove a constitutional requirement that a quarter of the state’s gasoline taxes go to public education, passed the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday with a vote of 22-0.

HJR2, like SJR1, would send $900 million a year to TxDOT. The money would come from state gas taxes. K-12 funding would instead come from the state’s general revenue.

HJR2 will now go to the House floor. If the measure passes the House, it would require voter approval to become a constitutional amendment.

The committee also passed a companion measure that would give TxDOT a third of new motor vehicle sales taxes beginning in 2016.