November ballot to include prop for highway funds

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Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter

Construction, construction, construction—it seems it never ends on campus and throughout the city. A new proposition may mean El Paso may see a lot more construction in the years to come.

Come Nov. 4, voters in the general election will have the option of choosing to allow an amendment that would provide a fund dedicated solely to assistance, maintenance and reconstruction of public roads and highways, not including toll roads.

The funds would come from one-half of the general revenue of oil and gas production taxes, which are currently used for Texas’ rainy day fund.

By 2040, it is estimated that 18 million more drivers will be on the
road in Texas.

It is estimated that $1.7 billion will be funded in the first year alone, free of taxes, fees or debt. A separate fund would avoid relying on debt and toll roads as the primary sources for funding such a project.

Upon receiving the necessary votes, transfers would be applied to the comptroller’s budget that was made after Sept. 1, 2014.

Since 2001, the state of Texas has received funding by borrowing from public and private interest groups. Supporters say there has been negligence to public roads for too long. There is an estimated $5.1 billion worth of reconstruction to do
on Texas roads.

Greg Abbott, attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate, recently released his TV campaign ad in which he told viewers that he agrees to add money into
Texas roadways.

Abbott appeared as a man in a wheelchair saying: “A guy in a wheelchair can move faster than traffic on some roads in Texas.”

Those who oppose the proposition argue that taking money from the rainy day fund can directly or indirectly hurt credit ratings in the years to come. The state has always had a comfortable balance in the rainy day fund and proved to be a good asset with strong credit in
times of recession.

Along with this, opponents argue that funding education is a problem of the state and the funding of pub-lic roads over assisting education is sending a wrong message.

It is not a guarantee that a political party will unanimously agree or disagree on a single proposition, especially one such as highway reconstruction. Individuals have their own perception regardless of
political stance.

The College Republicans chapter at UTEP is headed by senior Moises Blankenship, and although he is in favor of educational restoration in the state, he favors the proposition.

“It makes sense because the state’s oil and gas fuel the cars,” he said. “The cars go on the highways, so if the highways are not running smoothly, I think it is a concern to have them fixed. It makes sense that it all comes from an industry which is geared towards cars.”

Blakenship said that during his drives through the state he has noticed the rough condition
of the roads.

In a statement to The Prospector from Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, he too expressed support of what is known as Proposition 1.

“Texas must invest in its infrastructure in order to maintain it competitive position in the national world economy,” Rodriguez said. “Failure to do so will eventually erode our future. We can and should maintain the infrastructure that helps maintain the Texas economy.”

Luis Barrio may be reached at [email protected]