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Perry adds transportation funding to special session

Posted Monday, Jun. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Gov. Rick Perry on Monday added transportation funding to the agenda of the special session.

In his directive, Perry asked the Legislature to consider the “funding of transportation infrastructure projects” during the 30-day session, which began late last month.

“Texas’ growing economy and population demand that we take action to address the growing pressure on the transportation network across the state,” Perry said in a statement. “As we enjoy the benefits of a booming economy, we have to build and maintain the roads to ensure we sustain both our economic success and our quality of life.”

Perry called lawmakers back in session to consider redistricting proposals, but transportation advocates had been pushing Perry to expand the agenda to include road funding.

“I’m excited about the opportunity that’s before us on this," Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said in a statement. “Transportation funding was the one bit of unfinished business coming out of the regular session that we really need to take care of.”

During the regular session, the Texas Department of Transportation got $400 million in additional money for the state highway fund, a paltry 5 percent of what the agency said it needed just to maintain current road congestion.

Even before Perry added transportation to the call, lawmakers had been filing road funding bills with the hope that he would. For his part, Perry has been advocating for 100-year bonds to finance transportation infrastructure, arguing that the state should take advantage of historically low interest rates.

But a large contingent of Republicans remains adamantly opposed to TxDOT assuming any more debt. Some lawmakers want to tap the Rainy Day Fund for transportation funds, but conservatives have already objected to using the account for water projects and ending accounting tricks, so it’s unclear if that will re-emerge during the special session.

Aman Batheja contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared in the Texas Tribune at www.texastribune.org/2013/06/10/perry-adds-transportation-session-agenda

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