SENATE APPROVES BILLION DOLLAR ROAD FUND
|Senator John Carona of Dallas explains his bill to create a fund that local entities could access for transportation projects.|
(AUSTIN) — The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that could give local transportation authorities more money to build roads. SB 1350 would create a revolving fund that could be used by local entities to provide loans for hard to fund projects, or could be used to guarantee third-party loans for transportation projects. Bill author Senator John Carona of Dallas said money put into the fund could grow to provide billions for transportation projects. "You can estimate that for every dollar that goes into this fund, we'll be able to increase overall transportation funding by a factor of three to four," he said. Carona projected the fund could one day grow to provide more than $20 billion for transportation.
Carona's bill was praised by his colleagues as a revolutionary approach to providing transportation funding to local entities. "I think this is one of the most creative and significant bills that came out of Senate Finance this session," said Bryan Senator Steve Ogden, chair of that committee. The budget approved by the Senate earlier in the session includes $1 billion for this fund, and Ogden said he hopes House budget writers will preserve this appropriation.
Throughout the session, Carona has advocated reforming the way the state pays for transportation. He has said in the past that if something is not changed, Texas could be out of money to build and maintain roads in the near future. Carona said SB 1350, if it becomes law, is an valuable tool for local transportation entities, but not the ultimate solution the state needs. "This is an important piece of legislation, but I don't want to represent for a moment that it solves the problem, because it doesn't," he said. "It only takes care of a little piece of the problem."
The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, April 29 at 11 a.m.