This election's Proposition 7 is being touted as a wonderful solution to roadway gridlock, but there is a bigger story behind the push for Proposition 7.
The primary concern of lawmakers is to get commuters to be so glad about the potential for traffic relief that they overlook the billions in the bulk of state highway funds that are being spent in a fiscally irresponsible manner.
True to form, those who have control over ballot language have skillfully chosen and crafted the actual words and phrases citizens will read and accept or reject in the voting booth.
Proposition 7 – SJR 5 “The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for nontolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.”
The political talking points say credits to the state highway fund in Proposition 7 are earmarked for (Section 49-p, Article III) debt service and public roadways other than toll roads (which does not include so-called restricted use "managed lanes").
In fact, after losing the toll road argument, the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) successfully got the lanes being added to highway 281 converted to restricted use managed lanes that will not be open for general use and thus not be utilized to maximum capacity for traffic relief.
Beginning on September 1, 2017 and ending on August 31, 2032: Subordinated to the first $28 billion collected from the imposition of tax on sales, storage, uses, or other consumption, the next $2.5B collected will be credited to the state highway fund.
Beginning on September 1, 2019 and ending on August 31, 2029: Subordinated to the first $5B of tax collected from the imposition of tax on the sale, use, or rental of a motor vehicles, 35% of whatever the net remains will be credited to the state highway fund.
The Proposition 7 amendment enables the Legislature to reduce the credit to the highway fund in the adoption year and the two years that follow, but that reduction cannot exceed 50%.
A race against time. From now until September 1, 2017 the legislature may appropriate for any purpose any revenue deposited to the highway fund from motor vehecle sales, use, rental tax. Worse, the temporary provisions restricting the appropriation of highway funds credited from motor vehecle sales, use, and rental taxes ends on September 1, 2020.
Still, we should be happy. This is better than a poke in the eye with a hot stick.