Texas Lawmakers Have One Week to Pass Transportation Bill
by: Laurie Johnson, July 23, 2013 4:07:00 pm
After Texas lawmakers passed a controversial abortion bill ten days ago, the fireworks at the state capitol disappeared and national attention turned to more exciting things like royal births.
But there's still major work underway in the Texas legislature.
The House and Senate are trying to figure out how to provide an additional $800 million a year for transportation funding.
Rice University Political Science Professor Bob Stein says the Texas Department of Transportation is asking for an extra
$4 billion a year to meet infrastructure demands.
"It's not about whether they want to fund the transportation bill, it's really about how they would fund it. And it's worth noting here that all the conferees, House and Senate, have agreed that they are not funding it at the level the Department of Transportation (requested). So it's another set of unmet funding needs for transportation."
Right now, House and Senate members are at odds over whether the state should dip into the Rainy Day Fund to pay for roads.
Stein says Democrats are concerned that diverting money from the Fund could jeopardize dollars already earmarked for education.
"And with the Republicans debating about how much money should be taken out and how it should be repaid and where it should come from, the Democrats may have some influence here. I'm not certain this is a big partisan issue as much as it's really about a different set of philosophies about how government should be funded."
The special session ends on July 31st and lawmakers must pass the legislation if they want to avoid a third session this summer.