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Texas Legislature Supports Business Through Investment in Core Infrastructure

The Fort Worth business community secured several public policy wins during the regular session of the 88th Legislature, such as the Texas Jobs, Energy, Technology, and Innovation Act (HB 5) and a boost to Texas community colleges to more adequately prepare the state’s workforce. To inform the business community of other legislative wins, the Chamber will be highlighting a variety of bills that became law this past session. Next up is a review of the variety of infrastructure bills that have been signed into law.

Transportation

In 2014, Texas voters approved a ballot measure known as “Prop 1” with nearly 80% of voters in support. The proposition redirected a portion of oil and gas tax revenue that previously went to the state rainy day fund and sent the money to the State Highway Fund (SHF) instead. This funding mechanism has deposited a total of $13.3 billion into the SHF since 2015, roughly $1.5 billion per year on average.

Heading into the session, Prop 1 was due to expire at the end of 2034. HB 2230 extended this sunset date until the end of 2042, ensuring Prop 1 funding continues for at least the next two decades. The bill passed 146-1 in the Texas House and 31-0 in the Texas Senate, in a strong showing of bipartisan support for continued highway funding.

Similarly, a ballot measure known as “Prop 7” passed in 2015 with more than 83% of voter support.  The proposition redirects certain sales and use tax revenue and a portion of the state’s motor vehicle sales and rental tax revenue into the SHF. From fiscal year 2018 through fiscal year 2023, Prop 7 has allocated $15.7 billion – more than $2.6 billion per year on average – into the SHF.

Prop 7 was set to expire in 2032, but SCR 2 was filed in the Texas Senate to extend the sunset date until 2042. In another show of bipartisan support for transportation infrastructure, the Senate unanimously voted for SCR 2, and the House voted in favor 144-0.

Broadband

Recent studies conducted by the state broadband development office show that nearly three million Texas households – roughly seven million Texans – do not have broadband internet access. While much of this deficit is observed in rural areas, there are also gaps in coverage in urban and suburban areas. These barriers to broadband access negatively impact the quality of life for many Texans by limiting their ability to engage in commerce, access online education, or telemedicine appointments.

House Bill 9 creates the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund, allocating $1.5 billion to expand internet availability across the state. This falls short of the $10 billion amount estimated to be needed by Comptroller Glenn Hegar, but is a step in the right direction. To create the fund, a constitutional amendment will be voted on by Texans in the form of a ballot proposition in November. HB 9 passed the Texas House 134-8, and passed in the Texas Senate 30-1.

Water

Water policy doesn’t typically grab many headlines, but is a vital natural resource for the future prosperity of Texas. Inadequate water infrastructure in Texas leads to the loss of 136 billion gallons of water per year, and boil water notices have been increasing in frequency across the state. To put the water loss in context, 136 billion gallons is enough to supply Fort Worth, Austin, El Paso, Laredo, and Lubbock combined for a year.

Senate Bill 28 creates funding for water infrastructure enhancement, new water supply projects, desalination, and importing water from other states. It passed unanimously in the Senate 31-0, and in the House 134-4. It will now go before voters as a ballot measure in November for final approval.

Conclusion

Reliable core infrastructure for the state’s businesses and residents is critical to the continued growth and prosperity of Texas. The Fort Worth Chamber applauds the Texas Legislature for making meaningful progress in bipartisan fashion on transportation, broadband and water infrastructure this session.

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Upcoming Dates

  • June 26: Homelessness in Fort Worth Panel hosted by Councilmember Crain, Ridglea Theatre, 5:30 – 7 p.m.
  • June 27: Fort Worth City Council Meeting, 10 a.m.
  • August 17: State of the County Luncheon featuring Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare
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