I left out my thoughts on Texas Constitutional Amendment, Proposition 1, in my earlier election recommendations. Listener Club member Gary wrote to me “Do you have a recommendation on Proposition 1? I am having trouble finding any information on it outside [my trade group]… Any insight you have on this issue would be appreciated.” Kevin put it even more succinctly: “What’s the word on the constitutional amendment?”
Proposition 1 was placed on the ballot for this cycle by the Legislature because they didn’t want it interfering with the water-project funding issue on the last ballot cycle. Why were they concerned? To read the Texas press now, you’d think there was no reason because everyone seems to have forgotten what a financial-management mess TxDOT has been, as well as how we’ve all been hoodwinked before with schemes of dedicating money to road building and repair only to learn that the funds are diverted to other places.
Proposition 1 will pass by a wide margin but I will be voting against it as it puts in peril the Economic Stabilization, or Rainy Day, Fund by diverting a big amount that goes into that fund from oil and gas severance taxes to the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT should be funded by funding streams already dedicated to it but diverted by Legislators.
The very reason we created the Rainy Day Fund was to have it build up balances that can then be used for emergencies including the economic collapse, or bust, of the oil and gas industry. Yes, currently that industry is booming putting much larger amounts into the Rainy Day Fund but, Proposition 1 isn’t a one-time take from the current windfall, it’s a permanent diversion of funds that will flow even when the Rainy Day Fund isn’t flush. Such a diversion can put Texas in the economic peril in which we found ourselves in the 1980’s.
The Legislature needs to end fund diversions from TxDOT already in-place before creating a permanent diversion from our savings account to spending at the highway department.