Texas trying to work out how to utilize funds from oil boom to improve highways

Texas trying to work out how to utilize funds from oil boom to improve highways

As Texas' Proposition 1 is expected to generate billions of dollars for the state highway fund by dedicating a portion of the tax revenue from the oil boom to road construction and maintenance, state lawmakers and officials are trying to work out how to utilize the money.

The measure was approved by around 80 per cent of Texas voters, who wants the state government to increase transportation funding without increasing taxes or fees. As per the ballot language, the fund would be used to create transportation infrastructure, its maintenance as well as rehabilitation projects, excluding toll roads.

The state highway fund is expected to receive its estimated first payment of $1.7 billion by the end of December this year.

While supporters of Proposition 1 believe that the payments would remain high for the many years to come, but the recent drops in crude oil prices has triggered concerns that drilling activity could slow, which would lead to lower payments to the highway fund in the future.

State Representative Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), said, "I personally believe the money won't be as much the next couple of cycles. So I would like to see us get some projects across the state of Texas up and running."

Pickett, the chairman of the House committee on transportation finance, added that those who supported the proposition believed that spending on highway projects would address congestion on roads.

Meanwhile, the oil boom has brought new focus to lands owned by the University of Texas System. The UT System owns nearly 2.1 million acres of land, mostly in oil-rich West Texas.