Last week, a pair of bills were filed by Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz which could pave the way forward for transportation projects in Texas.
The first bill – the Ports-to-Plains Highway Act
– was introduced by Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota. The proposed expansion of Interstate 27 has long been a priority of the Lubbock Chamber and other stakeholders across the region. It would allow for agricultural and energy products to be moved safely and efficiently to market.
Earlier this month, Representatives Jodey Arrington and Henry Cuellar filed comparable legislation in the House of Representatives
that would designate the Ports-to-Plains corridor as a future interstate highway. The filing of these pieces of legislation follows the completion of a feasibility study conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The study found that the proposed upgrades to the Ports-to-Plains corridor would result in a 76% return on investment, more than $4 billion in annual travel cost savings, more than 20,000 new jobs, and almost $3 billion annual increase in state GDP
Also filed by Senators Cruz and Cornyn last week was the “Highway Formula Fairness Act”
, which would establish a minimum guarantee for fuel tax revenue received by states tied to the percentage of total funds paid into the national Highway Trust Fund. For several years running, Texas has been the largest “donor state” in the country – meaning more Highway Trust fund money is extracted from Texas via gas and diesel taxes than the state receives in return to help maintain its highway system.
The legislation would ensure that Texas and other donor states receive at least 95% of what they add to the Highway Trust Fund every year
. Currently, 19 states receive less than a 95% rate of return on their contribution to the Highway Trust Fund.