State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, wants to put a constitutional amendment before voters that would dedicate a portion of existing vehicle sales taxes toward state highway funding.
Nichols filed two bills on Wednesday and said they could inject $25 billion into highway projects over the next decade.
The senator announced the filing of Senate Bill 5 and Senate Joint Resolution 5, which would constitutionally dedicate a portion of the existing sales tax on new and used automobiles to the State Highway Fund. If it passes through the Legislature and is signed by the governor, voters would consider it on November ballots.
He announced the filing during a news conference, standing alongside Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
"Without adequate and dependable resources, the Texas Department of Transportation will continue to face challenges in constructing and maintaining Texas' highway infrastructure," Nichols said in a release. "I appreciate the support of Lt. Governor Patrick on this bill and look forward to continuing our work toward providing adequate transportation infrastructure for Texans."
Nichols said he believes there are five critical elements the legislature should look for when identifying additional funding sources for transportation. These include ensuring the funding is — predictable, constitutionally dedicated, transportation related, independent of fuel source and able to adjust to inflation.
This state motor vehicles sales tax is a revenue stream, which meets all of these qualities, he said.
"This is an issue I advocated for during the campaign that received strong support from the voters," Patrick said in the release.
Conservative forecasts for this revenue source estimate it would generate more than $2 billion annually. If approved, this proposal will give TxDOT a predictable revenue stream, which they can use to implement long-range transportation plans, Nichols said.
"Transportation infrastructure is a core function of government and its funding should be addressed. What could make more sense than to dedicate the tax on a vehicle you currently pay, to the infrastructure on which it depends? Without roads you don't need cars, and without cars you don't need roads," Nichols said.
Nichols serves as Chairman for the Transportation Committee. He is a former Commissioner for the Texas Department of Transportation.