I don’t understand this at all.
A bill that would have increased vehicle registration fees to raise money for transportation projects met its demise in the Texas House on Thursday.
House Bill 3664 by state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, was designed to generate money to pay down the state’s transportation-related debt and fund improvements on non-tolled roads across Texas.
After a spirited discussion, Darby postponed the bill until May 28 — one day after the session ends and lawmakers go home. He cited pressure from outside forces that made voting for the measure difficult for some legislators.
Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday he would call a special session if fees were increased for transportation.
“Send me a balanced budget that has no fee increases for transportation and $2 billion for infrastructure for water, and everyone can go home and enjoy their summer,” he told reporters, explaining that he would call a special session if legislators don’t approve $1.8 billion in tax relief.
The bill highlighted divisions within the Legislature’s Republican majority. While some disagreed with the revenue raising approach to addressing transportation concerns, supporters of the bill said transportation funding needs were reaching a critical point.
“There’s no doubt that our transportation system is in dire crisis,” said Transportation Committee Chairman state Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, who amended Darby’s bill to reduce the proposed fee increase from $30 to $15.
Phillips said the state was facing a $4 billion transportation funding shortfall, and he asserted that not addressing it was “a failure to lead.”
“Are you going to be a leader or are you going to just follow?” Phillips shouted at his colleagues.
“Baaaaaaaaaaa”, most of his colleagues replied. What’s truly amazing about this is that the original proposal for vehicle registration fees was to double them, which is to say increase them by $50, three times as much as Darby’s watered-down bill. That was proposed by Sen. Tommy Williams and endorsed by the Texas Association of Business, who I would think is a little miffed to be dissed like this, both by Perry and the nihilists at Empower Texas, who pushed a typically dishonest alternative instead. I didn’t think raising the registration fee was the best solution, but it wasn’t a terrible idea, and I was crazy enough to think it might be an acceptable solution for a serious need. That’ll learn me. So now we’ve got no transportation solution, no water solution, and no easy way to fund those solutions if we make another attempt at it. What once looked like a productive session is rapidly devolving into a big mess. Good luck sorting it all out in overtime. Trail Blazers has more.