FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2015
(512) 463-0120 office
AUSTIN - Today, the Senate Committee on Transportation considered and passed Senate Bill (S.B.) 321 by Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, relating to the amount of money transferred monthly from the state highway fund to the Texas emissions reduction plan fund. Senate Bill 321 would increase funds for transportation by reducing future transfers from the State Highway Fund to the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (T.E.R.P.). Current law requires the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to repay T.E.R.P. for title fee transfers collected in all counties and deposited to the Texas Mobility Fund.
TxDOT has projected a $5 billion per year shortfall just to maintain and repair our current transportation infrastructure.The Texas Comptroller estimated that the TERP balance on August 31, 2015 will be approximately $1.1 billion dollars, the highest amount in any General-Revenue-Dedicated account.
"Under current law, TxDOT has to transfer a certain dollar amount from the State Highway Fund to the TERP Account. However, the Legislature has never fully appropriated TERP revenues which has caused the balance to grow to over a billion dollars. It does not make sense to continue to send needed transportation dollars to TERP when those funds go unspent," stated Senator Hinojosa.
The Comptroller's Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) projects TERP receipts will equal $450.8 million in the next biennium. However, House Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act, only appropriates $236.3 million. That means $214.5 million of fees are being collected and not used on the intended purposes. The Legislative Budget Board (LBB) estimated S.B. 321 would reduce the amount TxDOT must pay from the State Highway Fund to TERP by $160 million.
"The bill would bring us closer to what the legislature appropriates, leave a considerable cushion in TERP, and allows the TERP fund to grow if more counties fall into non-compliance with the Federal Clean Air Act," stated Senator Hinojosa. "Increasing funds available for transportation projects while drawing down the large fund balance in TERP is a win-win for taxpayers."