Judge Emmett: Hike Taxes to Fund Infrastructure Upgrades

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is calling for state legislators to find money for improving the Houston area's infrastructure, even if it means raising taxes.

container shipSpeaking to a gathering of petrochemical and maritime industry leaders at the Pasadena Convention Center, Judge Emmett returned to a favorite theme — Houston's capacity to become the gateway to North America for international trade. That, he said, comes with a price tag.

“If we don’t invest in our infrastructure to serve our port, and I use that term ‘port’ to mean all the ports in this region, then we’re not going to grow.”

Emmett said state legislators can’t afford to keep tax or fee increases off the table.

“There’s not going to be some fairy that’s going to come down on high and say ‘Here’s a new highway,’ or ‘Here’s a new rail improvement,’ but if we don’t make those improvements, then those of you who are in the business that rely on goods moving in and out of ports, you’re going to find that that’s going to go somewhere else.”

Emmett said that Houston needs to build out its infrastructure to handle growing trade with India, Brazil, and Africa. But he downplayed the importance of increased trade with China via the Panama Canal, saying shorter transit times will give West Coast ports the edge in such trade even after the Canal’s expansion.

Bio photo of Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Business Reporter

Andrew Schneider joined KUHF in January 2011, after more than a decade as a print reporter for The Kiplinger Letter...