FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2015
(512) 463-0120 office
AUSTIN, TX — Today, Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa filed legislation that would increase funds available for transportation infrastructure purposes. Senate Bill 321 would increase funds for transportation by reducing future transfers from the State Highway Fund to the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP). Current law requires the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to repay TERP for title fee transfers to the Texas Mobility Fund. TxDOT has projected a $3.3 billion per year shortfall just to maintain and repair our current transportation infrastructure.
"This session the Texas Legislature will be considering several options to adequately fund our transportation system. I expect a viable solution will be a mix of approaches including dedicating certain existing funds, ending diversions, and possible cost of inflation adjustments. S.B. 321 is now part of the conversation. If passed, S.B. 321 would redirect approximately $138 million in the next biennium to our transportation needs," stated Senator Hinojosa.
The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan Account is estimated to have an unencumbered balance of $1.1 billion dollars. Fees on certificate of titles assessed in non-attainment counties (counties subject to Sec. 185 Clean Air Act penalties) and all other counties that were once deposited in TERP began flowing to the Texas Mobility Fund in 2008. To replace the revenue loss to the TERP Account, non-dedicated State Highway Fund (SHF) receipts in an amount equal to the certificate of title fees deposited to the Texas Mobility Fund during the preceding month is remitted to the TERP Account on a monthly basis.
"S.B. 321 would eliminate a diversion to the TERP from title transfer fees assessed in non-attainment counties and require TxDOT to transfer to TERP an amount equal to the title transfer fees assessed in only non-attainment counties and deposited to the Texas Mobility Fund," explained Senator Hinojosa. "Increasing funds available for transportation projects while drawing down the large fund balance in TERP is a win-win for taxpayers."
The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), now in its 13th year, is achieving significant reductions in air emissions. Many non-attainment and near non-attainment counties rely on grants from TERP to maintain Clean Air Act compliance and mitigate air emissions. However, the TERP account is a general revenue-dedicated account that has exceeded appropriations by the legislature and has been used in past sessions to certify General Appropriations Acts. S.B. 321 would ensure TERP maintains a revenue source but at lower growth rate.