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State Asks Feds for Fair Share of Transportation Funding

Tue April 23, 2019 - West Edition #9

In fiscal year 2019 Texas will receive only 95 cents in transportation funding for every dollar Texans paid directly into the Highway Trust Fund.
In fiscal year 2019 Texas will receive only 95 cents in transportation funding for every dollar Texans paid directly into the Highway Trust Fund.

Texas congressional leaders are urging fellow congressional lawmakers to address a longstanding inequity in the share of federal transportation funding Texans receive compared to what the state contributes in federal fuel taxes. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in fiscal year 2019 Texas will receive only 95 cents in transportation funding for every dollar Texans paid directly into the Highway Trust Fund. While other states receive more than their contributions, Texas is now the only "donor" state to the fund, a status it has held for several years.

In a letter from all 38 members of the Texas congressional delegation to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Texans are asking for this disparate rate of return to be addressed as Congress continues discussions on new infrastructure funding legislation. Currently, Texas directly contributes more than any other state and receives proportionately less than any other state based on outdated funding formula inputs that have been frozen since 2009.

"I am grateful that the Texas congressional delegation is fighting on behalf of Texans to ensure that their tax dollars are put to work here in the Lone Star State," said Gov. Greg Abbott. "Texas has been denied a fair return on federal fuel taxes for far too long. It is imperative that an equitable share of these funds be allocated to improving transportation systems right here in Texas. I urge Congress to put an end to this funding inequity."

"Texas has always been and continues to be a rapidly growing state," said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), who spearheaded the effort to gain support for the letter. "This means addressing our transportation needs is also a growing priority. Making a necessary correction to the current system of apportionment is crucial to ensuring that our state receives the appropriate level of funding. I am pleased that all 37 of my colleagues in the Texas congressional delegation have signed on to support my letter. The delegation's support for this initiative will benefit Texans living in all corners of our state. It is our hope that we will succeed in securing more federal transportation funds to help our state. As the longest serving Texan on the House Transportation Committee, I will continue my work on this issue as we seek to improve the infrastructure of our transportation system in Texas."

While Texas received $0.95, Alaska received $6.78, New York received $1.33, and California received $1.16 for every dollar directly paid into the Highway Trust Fund. Texas also is the only state that effectively receives none of the multi-billion-dollar general fund transfer provided to the Highway Trust Fund in fiscal year 2019. The delegation's letter notes that these factors amounted to a loss of up to $940 million in taxes paid by Texas motorists and taxpayers.

"Texas is experiencing historic economic and population growth, which requires us to meet the immense challenge of providing a safe and efficient transportation system," said J. Bruce Bugg Jr., Texas Transportation Commission chairman.

Bugg recently visited with members of the Texas congressional delegation to discuss progress the Texas Department of Transportation is making to meet these challenges and the need for fair federal funding.

"We are grateful for the efforts of our entire Texas congressional delegation as they work toward ensuring that Texas is no longer the last ‘donor' state so that the tax dollars Texans contribute from federal motor fuel taxes are returned to their state to build and maintain our massive transportation system," he said. "The days of Texas taxpayers funding projects in other states must come to an end."

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