AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The third time is a charm for Texas lawmakers, as the Texas Legislature ends the third special session of the year after passing a major transportation measure.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus declared the session over late Monday after lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment that would boost transportation spending by about $1.2 billion per year. The money would come from oil and gas revenues diverted away from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
Lawmakers agreed to a deal that would put the amendment in front of voters in 2014 and require the Legislature to set a minimum balance for the Rainy Day Fund every two years. Conservatives had hoped to set the minimum balance in the Texas Constitution.
The measure falls short of the $4 billion a year experts say the state needs for roads.
Dewhurst congratulated lawmakers for approving the deal and released the following statement:
“Our multi-billion dollar Rainy Day Fund is a testament to our state’s amazing growth in fiscal strength and the built-in safeguard of a two-thirds vote to draw money out of the Rainy Day Fund. This legislation does not raise taxes, yet it protects a healthy balance for future fiscal challenges, and divides future revenues between the Rainy Day Fund and the Highway Fund. The fund only had about $500 million in it when I took office, and balances are now in excess of $6 billion. This plan enables us to relieve congestion on Texas roadways while protecting our state’s ‘AAA’ bond rating with a healthy balance in the Rainy Day Fund. To protect our Rainy Day fund, I am recommending a floor of $6 to $7 billion for the next two years. Bottom line, the two chambers worked together to forge an agreement that addresses a key issue facing our state without raising taxes. This kind of sound fiscal policy and forward thinking has made Texas the envy of the nation and will make us even stronger in the years to come.”
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