Notes & Noticias: The High Cost of Doing Nothing

Dear Friends,

The second special session is winding to a close, but first the House must finish its work on HJR 2, which would provide transportation funding from the Rainy Day Fund.

It comes as no surprise that Tea Party Republicans are trying to use this effort as a way to block spending on our other priorities. Read on for more about this issue.

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The High Cost of Doing Nothing

Having served on the House Transportation Committee for 6 years, I have long advocated for additional funding for new roads, maintenance, and better mass transit options for Texas.

In 2011, I asked the Texas Transportation Institute to publish a report on “The Cost of Doing Nothing.” The conclusion of that study is that it would cost the Texas more to do nothing than to adequately fund our transportation needs.

Highlights of the report are as follows:

    • Texas would lose 288,000 jobs by 2035 if we continue to spend at planned levels, including more than 73,000 engineering and construction jobs.
    • Reconstruction costs could total more than three times as much as the cost of 25 years of maintenance and proper funding.
    • Proper maintenance can extend the life of a roadway by 18 years.
    • If Texas continues to pursue the current spending trend, the cost to the state’s economy from deteriorating mobility is more than $1.1 trillion over the next 25 years.
    • By 2035, delays will cause the average commuter to spend almost 140 hours in traffic, compared to 38 hours in 2010.

Today, the House will consider a constitutional amendment, HJR 2, on third reading. Although HJR 2 does not claim to solve our transportation woes, it is a step in the right direction.  If passed today, Texas voters would have the choice of directing approximately $900 million per year from the Rainy Day Fund to fund transportation.

Here is the sticking point: Tea Party Republicans are pushing an amendment that sets a strict spending limit on the Rainy Day Fund. 

This spending limit would jeopardize future funding for our top priorities like education and healthcare.

As long as this Rainy Day spending limit amendment remains off the bill, I will be casting my vote in favor of HJR2.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The second special session may be drawing to a close, but there’s still plenty to highlight from the Capitol and across Texas in this week’s “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

The Good: Last Saturday’s Community Forum

Thanks to everyone who came out to my community forum at the Metz Recreation Center last Saturday. We had a great discussion about a number of issues facing our community. I really enjoy these events, and was so glad to see so many people from not only HD-51 but also across our community come out to share their thoughts.

View more photos from the event on Facebook here.

The Bad: Lack Of Accountability in Testing Contract

An audit recently revealed a stunning and problematic lack of accountability in our state’s $462 million dollar contract with Pearson to conduct standardized testing in our public schools. As the audit states, the Texas Education Agency currently “lacks adequate processes for monitoring the contract.” With our Texas kids’ educations at stake and such a large sum of taxpayer dollars on the line, we must ensure that the TEA exerts sufficient oversight over our state’s contract with Pearson.

The Ugly: Rick Perry Signs Anti-Woman Legislation

Today, Rick Perry signed HB 2, the restrictive anti-abortion law that has galvanized Texans across the state to organize and elect leaders who respect women’s rights. Despite Republicans’ claims that this bill is about “protecting women,” in reality the purpose of this bill is to shut down access to healthcare for women, especially poor women, and create unnecessary — and likely unconstitutional — barriers to their accessing reproductive care. Our state should be focused on creating jobs and providing economic opportunity for all, not passing laws that will harm Texas women.

Read All About It

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Also, be sure to check out the recap of the regular session I posted on my website that highlights all of my accomplishments this year. Click here to read it.