May 18, 2018

Mother of Challenges

by Rep. Ryan Guillen

Public policy affects us all, but every issue impacts each of us to varying degrees. Veterans issues might especially interest our military families, while tax issues may be more significant to business owners. However, there are a few issues that are directly felt by everyone, and transportation is one of those issues. We all use public roadways to get to school, to work, or to wherever your day may take you. The problem with transportation--as with most issues--is money.

Problem Child

The perennial challenge we face with transportation in Texas is how to pay for the nation's largest network of public roads. A perfect storm of population growth, vehicle miles traveled, and freight traffic are deteriorating Texas’ road infrastructure and increasing congestion. Simultaneously, the purchasing power of traditional revenue sources for road funding is decreasing as a result of inflation in highway construction costs. Although the taxes we pay at the pump are supposed to take care of our roads, when adjusted for population and vehicle miles traveled, the growth rate of motor fuels tax revenue is smaller and even negative in some years as a result of increased fuel efficiency.

Steady Upbringing

The good news is that, through a number of key investments made recently by the legislature, state transportation funding is heading in the right direction. In 2013, the legislature created the County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program, which provided $224.5 million to eligible counties for transportation infrastructure projects located in areas of the state affected by increased oil and gas production. In 2014, the legislature and Texas voters amended the constitution to dedicate a portion of oil and gas revenues to maintain and develop state highways, including $1.74 billion in it's first year.

More than Just a Day

As a mother of public policy issues, it's fitting that Mothers' Day leads into Transportation Week. Just like there's always more we can do for mom's, there's always more we can do to improve our public transportation. I hope you'll join our ongoing efforts in pursuit of safe roads in our communities and everywhere in between.