March 22, 2007
Two words I didn't expect to hear this time around: Special session

Maybe it's just an immutable law of nature that there must be a special session every year that Rick Perry is Governor. I don't see him having a whole lot of enthusiasm for this, however.

The scuttlebutt in the Capitol hallways is that members of the Legislature are talking about wanting a special session for transportation. The idea is that if they are going to severely restrict the Texas Department of Transportation's ability to raise money through toll roads, they'd better find other revenue for roads. And if they're going to do that, and if it involves raising taxes, better to do it in a single-issue environment where the public could be made to understand their decisions.

I don't see any indication that Perry has changed his position on toll roads in general or the Trans Texas Corridor in particular, so I'm not sure why any legislator thinks this is a realistic option. Don't get me wrong, I'd go along with it. I just have a hard time imagining Perry doing so.

One possibility being floated: a constitutional amendment on the gas tax issue. Right now, the Texas Constitution requires that 25 percent of gas taxes go to public education. The public might be asked to waive that requirement, either on the full 20 cents in place right now (which would equate to an instant 5-cent increase, but require making up about $750 million a year from other revenue sources for schools) or on the incremental amount raised by indexing the tax to inflation.

Hypothetically speaking (since again, I don't expect this to happen), I could go along with the latter but not the former. I don't trust this Lege to make up that potential shortfall in education funding in any way but robbing other programs to do it. If and only if there were a new dedicated revenue source created to replace the gas tax monies, then I could see voting for such a proposal. Without that, it's a nonstarter. Eye on Williamson has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 22, 2007 to That's our Lege

NOOOOOO!! No special session, PLEASE!!!!

Posted by: el_longhorn on March 22, 2007 5:16 PM