From Staff and Wire Reports
AUSTIN — State Sen. Craig Estes was among the legislators who late Monday voted in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would boost spending for roads and bridges, bringing an end to the third special legislative session.
Lawmakers in both chambers moved quickly to approve the only item on the agenda of the third special legislative session, which Gov. Rick Perry called last week.
A deal reached in the House could provide $1.2 billion a year for transportation by diverting half of the money currently flowing into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Because the reserve fund was created with a constitutional amendment, voters would have to give final approval in the November 2014 general election.
“It is the proper role of state government to finance transportation projects, and it is critical to the future of our state that additional funding be secured,” said Estes, R-Wichita Falls, whose district includes Parker County. “My vote today helped secure that funding and did so without a tax increase or adding to our debt. This is a commonsense conservative approach and a step in the right direction in easing traffic congestion across Texas.”
The package’s author, Rep. Joe Pickett, announced before the debate began that he had met with numerous lawmakers to work out a compromise that could earn a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Legislature. Previous efforts had failed because conservatives demanded constitutional safeguards for the Rainy Day Fund, while other lawmakers wanted to retain control over it.
“It is absolutely critical to the future of Texas that we find additional funds for transportation,” Estes said.
“Over the last decade our great state has experienced tremendous population and economic growth, and our infrastructure needs to keep pace in order for the next ten years to be as prosperous as the last 10.”