Larson reveals history of raiding highway funds

Link to WOAI article here. Note how Jeff Wentworth has agreed to introduce a bill to prevent this looting. However, he’s known for introducing bills and letting them die. Wentworth doesn’t fight for his legislation, he introduces things to pacify his constituents so he can say, “See, I tried.” Well, when it comes to tolling us for what we’ve already paid for, “I tried” doesn’t cut it.

Also, it’s hard to believe Wentworth cares a stitch about this issue when his own law firm has multiple clients from the highway lobby (persue this web site for more) and their web site claims to secure favorable legislation for their clients. Wentworth also voted for all the toll road legislation and has taken and continues to take heaps of cash from the highway lobby including Zachry…

State Highway Construction Fund Looted
Nearly $10 billion removed from the fund to pay for lawmakers’ pet projects
By Jim Forsyth
WOAI Radio
October 3, 2006

Ever wonder why the Texas Department of Transportation suddenly has no money to build and improve highways, and all of a sudden every new road or highway improvement has to be a toll road?

Documents released by toll road opponent Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larson, indicate that over the last twenty years, some $10 billion has been systematically looted from the state gasoline tax fund, which is supposed to pay for new highway construction, often placed into programs that have nothing to do with highways.

“As a result of the continuous diversion of the fund, toll roads and pass-through financing have become the most viable funding alternatives for Tex-DOT,” Larson said. “Clearly the cannibalization of this fund has contributed to the transportation funding shortfall and the need for creative funding alternatives.”

The list of programs highway construction money has been diverted to reads like a legislative Christmas Tree. They include cemetery construction, tourism promotions, and maintaining the grounds of the State Capitol Building.

$3.4 million dollars in highway construction money has gone for a computer system in the State Comptroller’s office, according to Larson’s figures. Thirteen million has gone to the state department of Mental Health Mental Retardation.

One hundred thousand went to pave a parking lot at the San Antonio Chest Hospital.

Amazingly, $9.6 million in money that is supposed to fund highway construction has been diverted to the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

More than half of the total money diverted from road construction, $5.4 billion, went to fund the operations of the Department of Public Safety. One-hundred and fifteen million simply went into the state’s general fund.

Larson says State Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) has agreed to sponsor a measure in the coming session of the legislature that would outlaw the diversion of money from State Highway Fund 6, the motor fuel tax fund, into any project other than new highway construction.

“The diversion of state motor fuel tax money into items such as the State Department of Commerce for tourism packages and the Texas Historical and Arts Commission have contributed to the state highway shortfall,” Larson said.

0 Replies to “Larson reveals history of raiding highway funds”

  1. Milan J. Michalec

    I hate to say this, but he (Lyle Larson) left out where the rest of our taxes for roads went.

    As many of us know, TxDOT planners have identified $188 billion in needed projects to achieve an acceptable level of mobility by 2030. They estimate that only $102 billion will be available to meet those needs.

    Approximately three-quarters of all spending in the fiscal 2006-07 budget is concentrated in Education and HHS (see Figure 1, page 4).


    Note 1: For fiscal 2006-07, CSSB 1 proposes total funding of $39.9 billion for public education. This would represent an increase of 15.2 percent in all funds from fiscal 2004-05. General revenue-related spending would increase about $4.7 billion, or 19.2 percent, to $29.2 billion.

    Business and economic development programs, primarily highway construction and maintenance, account for 14 percent of all spending, and public safety and criminal justice make up approximately 6 percent. Natural resource regulation and other functions together represent nearly 6 percent of the all-funds budget.

    Dedicated state revenue and federal funds, mostly revenue from federal and state motor fuel taxes (MFTs), are factored into the budget as general revenue.

    One-quarter of net MFT revenue goes to public education, and the remaining three quarters are dedicated to highway-related functions, including policing by the Department of Public Safety.

    In essence, the shell game of the Legislature moving money from one pot to another has caught up.

    This is why toll roads (code word, “funding alternative”) have become the rage.

    Milan J. Michalec, Boerne

  2. Harvey Hild

    If you guys would stop raiding the highway fund we would have enough to build or maintain the roads in Texas without making all new roads toll roads. Get with the program.

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