Texas’ new pot of transportation funds will be protected, even though the state faces a funding shortage in many other areas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently told a large gathering.
“Last session we put billions into transportation and locked it away,” Patrick told about 1,000 people during a gathering known as the Texas Transportation Forum last week in Austin.
The comments are especially interesting today, after a Texas Tribune story reports that lawmakers are now looking at dipping into the transportation funding to help with other needs.
Patrick acknowledged to the crowd that there are provisions to use some of the transportation funds — estimated to be an extra $38 billion over 10 years — for other needs, if absolutely necessary. But he also said he didn’t expect to take such steps.
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“There are some mechanisms where we can roll that back, but we’re going to defend it,” Patrick said.
For the first time in about two decades, a lack of transportation funds isn’t a key theme of the Texas legislative session.
Texas voters in 2015 approved a funding plan that injects new dollars into roads, and the first $5 billion is expected to arrive soon.
The Texas Department of Transportation is already working with regional leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso, San Antonio and other metro areas to spend the money, Texas Transportation Commission chairman Tryon Lewis said during the forum.