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Transportation

Principles and Priorities

Principles. – All transportation policy decisions should be viewed through the lens of increasing efficiency, efficacy, and ease of movement of people and goods across Texas and between the other states and our neighboring countries. We must understand our system needs in the short-term while envisioning a system that is sustainable for the next several decades. While financing options, project sizes, and decision processes are limiting factors to implementation, we cannot originate infrastructure goals based solely or primarily on funding. Financing methodology is an important but secondary question. Instead, we must first envision the system the state deserves and then figure out how to pay for it.

Priorities. - While we must embrace all modes of transport across Texas, the priority must be the maintenance and new construction of existing systems - surface road and highway infrastructure, continued maintenance and modernization of our waterways, and freight rail modernization/optimization, high-speed rail, and commuter rail system construction. These system priorities should be coupled with financing and management schemes consistent with state-wide need, innovation, and a vision that addresses short-term crises as well as long-term requirements. All modes of transportation are an integral part of the long-term solution as long as such modes reduce congestion, emissions, and increase the efficacy and efficiency of the movement of people and goods across the state at a cost that is sustainable with the opportunities the systems present.

For the future of mobility and continued business growth, TAB supports the following:

SYSTEM NEEDS

Improved Transportation Systems. Support improved highways, ports of entry and other infrastructures that facilitate trade, increase the effective flow of goods and services, promote tourism and increase public safety wherever these improvements can improve economic opportunity and state productivity.

International Trade Corridor. Support development and funding of international trade corridors to accommodate cross-border traffic between Texas and Mexico and those transportation demands resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Toll Roads. Support the construction of toll roads wherever appropriate. Users will directly pay for the new roads, and tolls will be dedicated solely to maintenance and new construction. Vigorously support public-private partnerships that accomplish: construction and maintenance of sufficient surface transportation infrastructure while protecting taxpayer interests and property rights.

Waterway, Port, and Ship Channel Improvements. Support any opportunities available to the Texas Legislature or Texas state agencies to facilitate ongoing efforts to improve the maintenance and modernization of commercial waterways and ports through support for local communities seeking funding through the US Army Corps of Engineers or other sources and state agency review and coordination of federal or state permits or authorizations.

FINANCING OPTIONS

Bonds. Support the issuance of bonds, such as Prop 12, Prop 14, Texas Mobility Fund, as funding mechanisms for highway construction. Obviously, this can only be done in a fiscally responsible manner with ample funds to retire the obligations.

Public/Private Partnerships. Expand the use of Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDA) to allow the state to tap into private capital to supplement state funds to build infrastructure.

Pass Thru Financing. Expand this tool to allow local communities to participate in the process and help fund local needs.

Motor fuel tax limitations. Except for the constitutionally-required allocation of motor fuel taxes to the educational system, support strict limitations on the use of motor fuel taxes for other than transportation programs and the elimination of diversions of transportation funds to other uses.

ORGANIZATIONAL NEEDS

Outsourcing State Work. Support opening government monopolies to competition by comparing the cost of projects. If a business in the private sector can do the job better and at a lower cost than the state, then it should be outsourced. However, care should be taken to protect Texas businesses from competing with below-market priced materials/services from overseas in which subsidies provide an unfair pricing advantage over Texas suppliers.

State Engineering Work. Support outsourcing the state’s engineering work to the maximum extent feasible to reduce costs and save taxpayer money.

TXDOT. Reaffirm support for the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) notwithstanding Sunset recommendations that hold the agency accountable for financial management and performance as well as insist on modernization of TXDOT operations worthy of a 21st century Texas.