Seven propositions to amend the Texas Constitution are on the ballot this election. Proposition 7 would increase funding for roads by about $2.5 billion.
Republican State Senator Robert Nichols wrote the bill. He sat down with KERA’s Sam Baker to explain how this proposition is different from previous attempts to fund roads.
1. This year's measure would funnel money from two sources: general sales tax revenue and state motor vehicle sales tax revenue.
Just last year, voters approved a proposition to divert oil and gas tax revenue from the Rainy Day fund to the state highway fund. As with last year’s amendment, the ballot language prohibits use of this money for toll projects.
2. It’s unlikely that a hike in the gas tax will happen anytime soon.
“Members [of the House and Senate] don’t want that,” Nichols said. “You’re hitting them right in the pocketbook real quickly.”
The tax has been at 20 cents per gallon since 1991. With the rise in fuel-efficient and electric cars, Nichols also said raising the gas tax wouldn’t make much of a difference.
3. Proposition 7 doesn’t cover public transportation.
However, Nichols admits that roads alone won’t solve the state’s transportation issues.
“It’s going to take public transportation and highways,” he said. “It’s going to take everything we’ve got.”
Nichols said he didn’t know if any lawmaker was working on a future proposition to address public transportation, but he didn’t rule that out either.
4. Toll projects are not covered by Prop 7.
Toll roads are also unpopular among some state lawmakers.
“We need a dependable source for transportation planners,” he said. “They have got to know 6-8 years out how much money they have so they can plan and develop these projects.
5. North Texas would see about 25 to 27 percent of the money generated from the proposition.
That’s roughly the percentage of the state’s population living in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
“96 percent of the growth of this state is in urban areas, and we are growing at the rate of 860,000 people every two-year legislative cycle,” Nichols said. “That takes a lot of transportation.”
Early voting runs through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.
Learn more about all of the propositions on the ballot here.