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“Responsible” Funding for Transportation

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UPDATE: REP. DARBY HAS PULLED DOWN HIS BILL, AND IN DOING SO SUGGESTED THAT IT WOULD BE TAKEN UP IN A SPECIAL SESSION.

Michael Quinn Sullivan is at it again. Writing on the Empower Texans website, he assails the House leadership for scheduling a bill raising fees for transportation. HB 3664, authored by Drew Darby and appearing on the major state calendar today, raises fees on vehicle registration stickers by $30. Governor Perry opposes fees for funding transportation.

Mr. Sullivan does offer “responsible paths” for funding transportation without new taxes or fees: (1) “Simply end the diversions out of the gas-tax fund.” The problem with this is that the biggest diversion, the funding of the Department of Public Safety, costs the budget more than $1 billion. This DEFUNDS transportation, rather than funds it. Or, (2) Mr. Sullivan also suggests that “the state could also dedicate the existing motor vehicle sales tax to road and bridge construction.” Sure, the state could do that. But if you lose the dollars from the motor vehicle sales tax (which is general revenue), or from the funding of DPS, then how do fill that hole? You can’t. It’s a zero sum gain. Mr. Sullivan’s “solution” is totally disingenuous. It doesn’t produce one more dollar for transportation.

Finally, I would add that the budget is the province of the Legislature. The governor can lay out his parameters for what it will take to get his approval, but the Legislature is under no compulsion to follow his direction.

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