There is a growing consensus that our great state of Texas desperately needs transportation infrastructure improvements.
Texas' population is rapidly increasing through new births, immigration, and people moving from other states. The population grows an average of 2700 people every day, 365 days a year; totaling almost 1 million people a year. How do we keep up with this growth and accomplish transportation infrastructure improvements without the much despised tax increases, toll roads, or fees? TEX-21 is a recognized leader in transportation, and has an answer for this vital question.
TEX-21 brings a systematic and dynamic approach to corridor development in order to benefit the cities and counties along the corridor, and provides innovative thinking such as developing tools for financing projects.
One such financing project is Expiring Revenue Enhancements (ERE). ERE's are a TEX-21 created initiative that provides for funding infrastructure improvements without any tolls, taxes, or fees. It does not reduce current state revenue and uses only the increase in state sales tax within that particular zone to pay for the project. It works by creating state sales tax increment zones around transportation projects, and the increase in state sales tax in this zone would be used to pay for the project. After a period of time, the state sales tax growth would revert to the general fund as it currently does. This idea is widely embraced by both sides of the aisle, and has great traction already for the upcoming legislative session! For a full description of ERE's and how they work, click here.
TEX-21 believes in a multi-faceted and creative approach to infrastructure improvements, and ERE's are just one way we look to improve transportation. Another important TEX-21 initiative is the Third Coast Initiative. This initiative seeks to increase economic development throughout the state following expansion of our Texas Gulf (the Third Coast, after West and East Coast) seaports and the supporting railroads, docks, cranes, and roads necessary to handle the additional movement of freight occasioned by the expansion of the Panama Canal, which allows the giant post-Panamax ships to transit the Canal which began in June 2016.
Texas currently spends almost no money on Texas ports, leaving it to local government entities to pay for with local taxes, while other states on the Gulf Coast are dredging their shallow ports deeper, and making other capital improvements to handle huge ships laden with containers for retail stores, primarily from Asia, and enable U.S. exports to transit the Canal. The Texas Senate has appointed a Select Committee on Ports, and some members recently traveled to Panama with TEX-21 in early June to study the Canal expansion firsthand. Click here for more information on the Third Coast Initiative!
Another critical transportation infrastructure need is right of way (ROW). Without ROW, future transportation projects simply cannot be built, no matter the funding. TEX-21 is researching the opportunity to preserve ROW for future transportation projects without additional cost and without constituting a taking, so there would be less need to condemn land or purchase land already developed. This approach would allow cities, counties, and the state to preserve right of way before development happens and impedes a needed road or highway expansion, or makes it more expensive to acquire. If the transportation project is not developed within a set period of time, then the ROW would be released for use to the owner. TEX-21 is looking for a solution that would be mutually beneficial to the land owner/developer and to the State.
TEX-21 is also concerned with improvements and expansion to multiple specific corridors throughout Texas that impact the effective transportation of people and goods throughout Texas. This is our Corridor Studies Initiative. See our corridor task forces here.
All of these important issues will be discussed with legislators at our February 23rd, 2017 Legislative Day in Austin. The more support we can show for these initiatives from elected officials and business owners around the state, the stronger our message will be in Austin. Join us on January 18th, and help us improve transportation for all Texans! RSVP now!