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Lawmakers Continue Transportation Bill Negotiations

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:13 PM CDT
On Friday, Texas lawmakers will once again try to hash out an agreement to help maintain Texas roads. A hefty task, considering the population boom is putting another 30,000 cars on the road each month. Just keeping up with the existing roads is a full time job and a pricey one too: around $4 billion per year by some estimates. Now with time running out, lawmakers are tying to put aside their differences and come up with some of the money to maintain.

As the second special session winds to a close, state lawmakers are struggling to find a compromise on how to cover the $800 million tab to maintain the state's roads. In both the House and the Senate plans, how money gets shifted around without letting the Rainy Day Fund dip below $6 billion is a key concern.

Originally Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had said he hoped lawmakers could work out their differences and wrap up this discussion by Friday afternoon.

But the Texas Tribune reports the House has now adjourned until Monday and negotiations are expected to stretch well into the weekend.

"The needs that we have are in the billions," said Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville). "I can't even begin to tell you."

"I think one of the things that's happened is the whole process has become more convoluted," said Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin).

Transportation advocates say the money is critical to making sure the state can keep up.

"There's projects all over the state," said Gary Bushell, Transportation Advocates of Texas Communications Committee Chair. "They have a continual list of projects they would like to build. They'll get the environmental started but there are limits to what they can do if they know they don't have the money."

There's a lot of money at stake for taxpayers, too. If lawmakers can't pass a bill by Tuesday, Governor Perry could call a third special session. It costs around $27,000 each day to keep lawmakers at the Capitol.

Both the House and Senate plans call for voters to have the final say in November.Lawmakers Continue Transportation Bill Negotiations

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