TxDoT announced today that it has “found” $2 billion for new roads in the form of “unexpected federal funds” and underbidding of some contracts. Far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it does make me wonder what’s going on at the agency; after all, it was just two years ago that TxDOT lost track of a billion dollars. The main cause for concern is that part of the $2 billion is allocated to borrowing, which is the worst way to pay for highways. Patricia Kilday Hart recently reported these numbers in the Chronicle:
$575 million: Amount Texas budgeted for building new roads in next two years.
$850 million: Amount Texas will pay for debt service to fund the building of roads during the same period.
Paying for roads with debt service is the worst possible way to build highways. If TxDOT “found” some cash, it should practice pay-as-you-go.