Not that it wasn’t glaringly obvious already, but the Texas Department of Transportation is in some serious debt. Nearly $18 billion worth, to be more exact. And it looks like things are just going to get worse–for the next few years, at least. But what can be done about it? Surprisingly, even some conservatives are saying we should raise taxes.
In reality, though, it seems like that’s the only thing that can be done. Sure, we’ve got toll roads popping up all over the place, but those cost a lot of money to build–and thus, a long time to pay off solely with toll revenue. Lawmakers are ready to cut funding, but they’re a big part of the problem for allowing TxDOT to get this far into debt in the first place by funding new construction that couldn’t be paid for with cash.
To make it even worse, many of these same lawmakers are totally opposed to any tax increase whatsoever. But with Texas’ growing population comes a growing infrastructure need, which has to be paid for somehow. And constructing new toll roads is definitely not a short-term answer.
The situation is so dire that even some fiscal conservatives, such as Senator Kevin Eltife, suggest that raising taxes would actually be the conservative thing to do. He suggests a 10-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase, which some lawmakers are completely opposed to, even though the Texas fuel tax rate hasn’t increased from 20 cents a gallon in 1991.
Anything has to be better than wallowing in debt, though.