FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2015
(512) 463-0120 office
AUSTIN, TX – Today, the Texas Senate 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. Under current law, a portion of certificate of title fees collected in all counties are deposited directly to the Texas Mobility Fund. Currently, an equal amount of those deposits is then required, in statute, to be transferred from the Highway Fund to TERP.
S.B. 321 says, rather than transferring dollar for dollar in all 254 counties, the Highway Fund would only send over an amount, dollar for dollar, of the amount collected in the non-attainment and affected counties only, thereby reducing the amount that’s sent from the Highway Fund to TERP, freeing up that money to remain in the Highway Fund to be used for highway purposes.
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 transportation dollars 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 $1 billion. 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. S.B. 321 would reduce the amount TxDOT must transfer from the State Highway Fund to TERP by $50 million.
"The bill is also about transparency and truth in budgeting. S.B. 321 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 reducing reliance on general revenue-dedicated accounts to certify the budget is a win-win for taxpayers."