The average Harris County voter will be confronted with about 100 unique elections, come November. Many of them will be hard choices, many will likely be quite simple. One of the simplest decisions, undoubtedly, should be to VOTE YES on Proposition 1.
Prop 1 was prompted last summer by the State Legislature as a proposed constitutional amendment to withdraw more than $1.2 Billion from the State’s rainy day, in order to fund transportation infrastructure projects. Much like the $2 Billion similarly withdrawn from coffers last year to pass Proposition 6 (for water infrastructure projects), Prop 1 only makes a nominal dent in Texas’ figuratively overflowing surpluses in order to provide real solutions for long-term hazards.
But its importance truly cannot be understated. Many civil engineering firms have contracts contingent on passage of the referendum; this isn’t about their bottom line, it’s about desperately-needed work to update and care for the roads and highways that everyone takes for granted every single day. Roads cost money, bridges cost money and maintenance costs money. This money will be used for precisely that purpose. If you –like every Texan who has attempted to transverse a major city while the sun is up– have ever sat in traffic or lamented the declining state of roads and highways, this is an awfully good way to make a dent in it. Texas’ highways were once the envy of the world. It wasn’t because of courteous drivers of good weather, it was because the State went out of its way after repeated oil booms to leave some money to the side for the future.
Today, we have been graced by yet another oil boom. However, there are still some small-minded ideologues who would merely squander the returns, and not invest it in our future. There are also some naive, starry-eyed dreamers who will always bemoan the “if only” ad nauseum. Be it education, water or roads, depriving the next generation of a workable state is not just naive, it is downright cruel. Fortunately, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, the leadership from both the Democrats and the Republicans, have come together on this issue in order to formulate solutions that are satisfactory for the future. Governor Rick Perry, never known for any modicum of liberalness on fiscal affairs, spearheaded this issue so strongly that he called a third special session of the State Legislature last year in order to pass the proposition after it had failed in a previous session.
Still, this board has its reservations about the proposition. Predominantly, we are concerned that it does not go far enough. Reporting at the time from the pertinent sources as the Texas Department of Transportation, more than $4 Billion was originally requested in order to fully accomplish their goals. Furthermore, considering the rapid growth that Texas is expected to undergo in the coming years, the deterioration of our roads will only compound in the future if a more comprehensive solution is not reached. Personally, we think the ideal solution to such a quandary is to raise the State’s Gas Tax, which has remained steady for more than two decades, but that is neither here nor there right now.
Right now, the imperative is to pass Prop 1, doling out the invaluable money needed in order to maintain Texas’ roads at their current congestion rates. Hopefully, it can be a foundation for future goals, so that we may –once more– have roads that are the envy of the world.
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz & Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey of Boston, Luis Fayad of College Station and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans. Editorials represent a majority opinion of the voting board.