For years, I have been advocating that Texans deserve 22nd Century roads without higher taxes, fees, and without toll roads. I have been proud to repeatedly and unabashedly stand with Terri Hall and Texans Uniting for Reform & Freedom (TURF) against toll roads in Texas and have filed three bills that will help bring an end to them, as well as other pieces of transportation legislation that will help our infrastructure across the state. Together these bills will help provide a proper revenue source, unburden Texans from double taxation, promote transparency and efficiency in how our tax dollars are spent, and advance liberty. I have kept my promises to pursue legislation that will help our roads for Texas families today, and for our future generations.
Texas has been a case study of what conservative governance can accomplish. Because we value liberty and economic freedom, our state has led the nation in job creation. Texas' population has increased 57% over the past twenty-five years, and our growth will continue. While our population growth is great for our state, it comes with challenges, like obvious strains on our roads and infrastructure. The use of our state roads has grown by 95%, but our state road capacity has only grown by 8%. Our population numbers and state road use will continue to increase dramatically, and the last thing we need to do as a state is take on more debt, raise more taxes, or toll Texans more when we know we can fix the problem now.
Proposition 1, SJR 5, and Senate Bill 5 are a step in the right direction, but we must do more if we want to give Texans the 22nd Century roads they deserve, without higher taxes, fees, and without toll roads. We must add two to three times the additional funding that is in Senate Bill 5 if we want to fully fund our roads without toll roads and new debt. That is what this group of our package of transportation finance and reform legislation will accomplish:
Senate Bill 61 would allocate all gas tax and motor vehicle sales tax revenues to the State Highway Fund - the state’s primary highway maintenance and construction account. This bill is a step in the right direction to create a constant and reliable stream for funding transportation without raising taxes or fees.
Senate Bill 341 would allocate all sales tax revenues from motor vehicle sales to the State Highway Fund to be used for highway projects and improvements. The bill stipulates that revenues deposited may not be used for toll roads. This is an additional way of prioritizing more funding to building new, non-tolled highways.
Senate Bill 1182 will significantly limit toll roads. In November, Proposition 1 was passed by an overwhelming margin. Texans showed that they are tired of toll roads, and are ready for proper infrastructure funding. On top of that, Texans are tired of being taxed twice on tolls roads: once to build them, and again to use them. With the passage of SJR 43 and SB 1182, the state's primary construction and maintenance account will be used on roads that all Texans can enjoy without double taxation.
Senate Bill 1607 requires TxDOT to designate a five-year signature transportation project. There are many existing roadways and highways that need attention. TxDOT can and should address the improvements on these highly traveled roadways that connect our great cities. As we reprioritize existing revenues to road construction, Texans deserve to know that their tax dollars are being spent on a project that benefits all Texans, and a signature project by TxDOT would deliver exactly that.
Senate Bill 1184 will require a state audit of Regional Mobility Authorities (RMAs), which have broad powers as subsidiaries of TxDOT. This will help institute more efficient practices for RMAs, and will lead to greater transparency and oversight as we increase funding for transportation infrastructure.
Senate Bill 1340 will ban red light cameras in the state of Texas, as well as other forms of photographic traffic enforcement such as speed cameras and school bus cameras. Traffic enforcement by camera is unwanted, unsafe, and must be outlawed in Texas. This is a bipartisan issue to help protect the freedoms that are bestowed to us. To defend the liberty and safety of the people of Texas, we must act now to remove red light cameras, and other forms of photographic traffic enforcement. Texans are tired of being found guilty by a machine. It's time to put a stop to these cameras.
Senate Bill 1606 requires greater use of the design-build method used by TxDOT to design and build roads. The design-build process is a cost-saving, timesaving measure, as they usually get Texans moving 1-10 months ahead of schedule. The private sector is leaner, faster, and more efficient than state government, so TxDOT should make greater use of the benefits the private sector can bring to the table.
Senate Bill 1674 extends the improvements made by the LBJ Express project on I-635 East expansion approximately 10.8 miles further eastward to I-30. This is a priority for Senate District 16, and I’m working closely with other Dallas-area leaders to deliver this much-needed improvement.
Senate Bill 1675 will phase-out the annual vehicle safety inspection requirement. This will benefit 22.6 million Texans by removing an otherwise unnecessary tax. There are well-researched academic studies from many other states that indicate vehicle inspections have little to no relationship to road safety. This is a tax cut that will save Texans time and millions of dollars.
Because of our rich history, our natural resources, and our focus on liberty and economic freedom, Texas will continue to be a great place to live. But I will fight tirelessly to make it even better. As Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee, I will continue to focus on fixing our transportation system. After years of neglecting to fund our roads, we have taken strides in the right direction, and we will continue to take even bigger and bolder strides. These bills will help get Texans the 22nd Century roads they deserve, and we will keep pushing these throughout session.