Skip to comments.TxDOT makes $1 billion error
Posted on 03/12/2008 2:15:26 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
In the midst of inflation, funding difficulties and halted expansion projects, a budget error on the part of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) may have exacerbated their challenges.
"TxDOT does some mysterious accounting," said Rep. Chuck Hopson (D-Jacksonville). "They had close to $1 billion counted in their budget twice."
"That was a serious error on our part and we have made changes to try to prevent that type of error from occurring again," said TxDOT Spokesman Chris Lippincott, adding that the amount added twice in their financial statement was unrelated to the $1.2 billion in federal rescissions, which are expected by 2009.
The issue of the cash-flow document error was taken up at a recent joint committee hearing between the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security. "That was a good meeting for us," Mr. Lippincott said. "We were able to explain our misinterpretation of the cash-flow documents."
Besides the paperwork and legislative difficulties, TxDOT faces new challenges in funding the maintenance and expansion of the largest highway system in the nation, Mr. Lippincott said.
"We have an aging (highway) system, which means maintenance needs are increasing," he said. "We're reaching the maximum amounts of our bonding authority, so we're having to use more funds to pay for debt service."
Mr. Lippincott added that inflation has increased the costs of highway materials by 60 percent over the last five years.
"What used to cost $100 now costs $160," he said.
Other difficulties for Tx- DOT arise due to tax-dollar allocation.
"Many people believe that once they pay their gas taxes, that money goes to TxDOT," Mr. Lippincott said. "It doesn't. It goes to the state and the decisions on how to spend the money are made by the legislature. They have a tough job, I wouldn't trade places with them."
The State of Texas charges 20 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes. Mr. Lippincott said more than $1.5 billion in state gas tax revenue will be spent on other priorities by the Texas Legislature.
"Those needs include the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Education Agency," he said. "One nickel for every 20 cents of gas tax revenue is placed in the permanent school fund. It's harder to imagine a better use for tax revenue than public education."
Mr. Lippincott added that more motor vehicle fuel taxes will be spent on needs other than highway funding in the 2008-09 biennium than any other biennium.
"The legislature is aware of that and they are taking it seriously," he said. "We face the challenges of a growing state. Texas population grows by 1,000 people every day. The dollar doesn't go as far as it used to."
Rep. Hopson said options have been reviewed, such as a user-based tax system and toll roads.
"People have looked at (raising) the gas tax," he said. "In our economy, we can probably do something else instead of raising gas taxes. (TxDOT) wants to toll (drivers) and put in the Trans-Texas Corridor. The legislature is pushing back."
Still, key legislators are working to help TxDOT meet the challenges it faces.
"Not all of the funding from the state gas tax is going to TxDOT," said Alicia Phillips, press secretary for Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville). "The senator feels that TxDOT is underfunded."
Trans-Texas Corridor PING!
They will make up the fiscal shortfall with highway robbery kiosks.
It’s not clear what happened here...did they pre-allocate $1 bilion for money they were going to steal, did they undercount their projected expenses so they could fictitiously come in under budget, or did they just make a dumb error hoping to raise the shortall by raising taxes elsewhere? (=nirvana on earth for bureaucrats)
A road to nowhere!
Not hard to fix. The sentiment is there but the amount is probably very low.
I can understand TxDOTs concerns about the lack of gas tax revenues. Jorge Boosh recently signed a bill into law raising CAFE standards (the same energy bill that phases out incandescent bulbs), meaning that gas taxes per mile driven will effectively decrease.
This was actually reported some time ago.
That damned decimal point really gets in the way doesn’t it!
“The State of Texas charges 20 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes.”
The Federal government charges around 45 cents on top of that...
If the people knew how much the Fed government was making more in taxes in what the oil/gas companies themselves were making on their own product...
I bet there waould be a little change coming...
Remember when they actually did post a little sticker on the pumps that told you how much the government was making in revenue on every single gallon of gas pumped into your vehicles...
Wonder what would happen if we told them we want to see that again as a nice reminder of how much we get raped on this product...
And when did the federal loot become 45 cents/gallon? The last I heard, it was 18.4 cents.
They actually do that in Ontario. It's nice to see such honesty.
Missed the decimal point...Sorry, muh bad...
Stick it anywhere you like...hehehe
Is that not a loaded statement, or what???
But still, those stickers need to be put back on the pumps...To remind us of this fact...
Look at it this way, if Texas taxes at 20 cents, and the Feds get 18.4 on top of that possibly??? That still comes out to a nice wedgie percentage on every gallon we pay to entities that do nothing but rake it in...Right???
What did they do to deserve that revenue???
Do we (or did we) get a say so in how much they get to scrap off the top there???
I am torn between toll booths and raising taxes. I actually like the toll booth idea better than raising taxes because that way EVERYONE pays the toll booth when they use it. It could be that woman on welfare or the man who makes two million a year. Taxes are only paid by homeowners and i don’t like that at all.