FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2001
AUSTIN, TX--Today the Texas Senate voted out landmark legislation by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, providing Border counties the necessary funding to pave colonia streets and provide colonias access to public roads.
Senate Joint Resolution 37, the Constitutional amendment, authorizes the Texas Public Finance Authority to issue general obligation bonds in an aggregate amount not to exceed $175 million.
Senate Bill 1296 requires the governor's office to determine the amount of bonds to be issued at any one time and the Texas Transportation Commission to establish a program to administer the use of the proceeds of the bonds. This enabling legislation also requires the Texas Department of Transportation to administer the program in cooperation with the office of the governor, the secretary of state and the Texas A&M University Center for Housing and Urban Development.
"Although the state has concentrated its efforts in trying to address the water and wastewater services in our colonias, not much has been done to pave the roads in these communities," said Sen. Lucio.
Colonia residents continue to live in neighborhoods with streets that are nothing more than dirt and "caliche" paths subject to intense flooding after a rain. Lacking curbs and drainage, colonia streets create barriers to everything from school bus and postal deliveries to emergency services. Usually below sea level, colonia roads fill with stagnant water that creates prime breeding habitat for mosquitoes and water-borne diseases.
Authorized projects would include the construction of colonia access roads, the acquisition of materials used in maintaining these roads and projects related to the construction of access roads, such as projects for the drainage of the roads.
The constitutional amendment, which will be placed on the November statewide ballot, would authorize the Texas Transportation Commission, within its discretion and in consultation with the office of the governor, to determine what constitutes a border colonia when selecting the counties and projects to receive assistance.
The measures are now headed to the House for consideration. State Rep. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, has shown interest in carrying this legislation on the House side.
Note: Director of Subcommittee on Border Affairs and of Legislation, Mr. Daniel Esparza, is handling this legislation.