Transportation “bank” gets Senate approval
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The Texas Senate just gave unanimous approval to Sen. John Carona’s SB 1350, which sets up the Texas Transportation Revolving Fund — a transportation “bank,” really — that will leverage $1 billion in transportation bonds authorized by Prop 12. According to the bill’s analysis, the revolving fund will allow funds to be continuously recycle: the sale of loans will provide additional capital to the fund. Carona was held up in passage only by a string of laudatory speeches, started by Finance chair Steve Ogden who complimented Carona’s “creativity” in setting up the fund, which could provide up to $20 billion in financing. The revolving fund could provide a vehicle for the Texas Retirement System and Employee Retirement System to invest in state infrastructure, a policy Ogden supports. However, Ogden noted after passage of the bill that the Senate budget bill provides for debt service to fund the Prop. 12 transportation bonds, while the House’s budget bill does not. He hopes to persuade the House conferees to support the concept — which allows the state to use sales tax revenue, and not just the gas tax, to build highways. Carona’s bill was headed to speedy passage with no comment when Ogden remarked on the lack of fanfare for such an important measure. “It’s all part of my humble nature,” Carona replied.