By BRIAN SMITH
After the end of the third and final special legislative session Monday evening, State Sen. Craig Estes said Thursday he felt “like a bird out of a cage.”
Estes, R-Wichita Falls, spoke of some of the highlights of the special session during the Parker County Republican Women meeting Thursday. Parker County’s representative in the state senate said a pair of items concerning water and transportation will help the state move forward if voters approve them.
Proposition 6, which voters will vote on in November, would take $2 billion out of the state’s $12 billion rainy day fund and allow communities to borrow from the fund for water improvement projects. Estes said communities and other entities would then repay the fund with interest to keep the fund strong.
In November 2014, voters will have the chance to approve a transportation measure that would allocate about 37 percent of new rainy day funds to go toward transportation projects. With the state’s population expected to double over the next 25 years, new transportation infrastructure needs to be developed and current roads maintained, Estes said.
“TxDOT says it will need $4 billion a year to develop new roads and maintain what we have if those projections are true,” Estes said.
Estes went on to say that 75 percent of oil and gas revenues would go into the rainy day fund with half of those monies going toward transportation if voters approve the measure. There is a caveat to the plan, stating if the rainy day fund monies get too low, the transportation monies are shut off.
A committee of House and Senate members would then meet to determine the floor of the rainy day fund, Estes said.
“It doesn’t solve the transportation problem, but it is a giant step forward,” Estes said.
Estes also said it was a successful regular legislative session for a number of his bills, including seven concerning the right to bear arms. One would help recruit firearm manufacturers to Texas while another would provide tougher certification for handgun license instructors.