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State Lawmakers Fail to Pass Highway Funding Plan

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The Texas House has failed to approve a constitutional amendment to boost funding for roads and bridges possibly triggering a third special session.

The House adjourned Monday and with plans to return Tuesday, the last day of the second special session. Gov. Rick Perry has promised to call a third special session if the package to boost spending on roads and bridges by more than $840 million a year did not pass.

A transportation package consisting of a proposed constitutional amendment and a law to make it work came up for a vote Monday.

Lawmakers in the House failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to approve a constitutional amendment, while the Senate passed only the enabling law. The measures could pass on Tuesday if supporters rally the votes.

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Brazos County state representatives John Raney and Kyle Kacal were among the 84 who voted for House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR 2).

Proposed constitutional amendments require 100 votes.  24 House members were absent and two others, including Speaker Joe Straus, did not vote.

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Speaker Straus issued this statement following the vote:

“I would like to thank the Members who worked so diligently in an effort to address some of our transportation needs during these two special sessions. As today’s vote shows, Members have become increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of diverting and indefinitely dedicating funds away from the Rainy Day Fund to roads. These funds were never intended to be a stable, long-term way to address our transportation needs.

“Diverting a capped amount of money from the Rainy Day fund to repair roads is much like using a Band-Aid to cover a pothole; in the end, you still have a pothole and you’ve spent a lot of money without solving the fundamental problem. Legislators know that Texas needs a much more comprehensive approach to funding our growing state’s growing transportation needs, and another 30-day special session will not change that. Until members are free to consider real options – beyond simply shuffling taxes from one purpose to another – we will not find a responsible solution to this issue.

“One of the hallmarks of this year’s regular legislative session was the way legislators came together to develop long-term, responsible policies to meet Texas’ growing needs. Developing a similar long-term, responsible plan to truly address Texas’ growing transportation needs is going to take much more time and an approach that focuses on the best solution for the people of Texas.”

Governor Perry issued this statement following the House vote:

“It is disappointing that some members of the House today needlessly delayed our state’s ability to deal with the added strain our increasing population and surging economy are placing on our roads and highways. Should the Legislature adjourn without addressing our growing transportation needs, they’ll be abdicating one of the most essential roles of state government, potentially sapping our economic momentum. This was an opportunity to utilize hundreds of millions of dollars in existing revenue to move forward on numerous projects across our state and begin dealing with the effects of our economic growth, and just as importantly, provide much-needed relief to working Texans everywhere who spend hours in traffic every day. Legislators have been in Austin for nearly seven months now, and to go home without dealing with one of the most pressing issues facing all Texans is simply unacceptable. I join Texans across the state who appreciate the 84 members of the House who voted today to keep Texas moving.”

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Posted by on Jul 29 2013. Filed under Featured Stories, News.

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