What is Prop 1 (Texas)? And, How Should I Vote?

Sunday, October 12, 2014
posted by elizabeth @ 9:05 AM

I am going to tie one of my favorite movies, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, starring Clint Eastwood, the history of the ancient Roman road system, a strong Texas economy and Proposition 1 together to explain the importance of funding for roads in Texas.  As I was doing my research for this opinion piece, I came across a quote that is good explanation about roads and the Texas economy, especially as it relates to Houston and Texas.

Matthias Sweet, a researcher at the McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics at McMaster University, uses the movie the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as an analogy to exiting road conditions in the U.S.   In an interview with Emily Badger of the Atlantic City Lab Sweet says “We all know that it’s pretty ugly out there when you’re stuck in gridlock, but we have reasons to believe that there might be parts of congestion that are all three of those,” he says. “Congestion may be good in that it’s an indicator of active and vibrant urban places. Congestion might be bad in so far as it means that access is impeded, freight deliveries aren’t able to happen on time, and people are hating life.”

The Texas economy, thanks in large part to our thriving oil & gas industry, is good.  As a result there are jobs aplenty and people moving here for those jobs.  However, the economic growth and success brings with it challenges.   Much of the economic growth is coming from people moving to Texas.  The estimates for people moving to Texas each day varies depending on who you are talking to.  It is somewhere between 1000 and 1500.  Regardless of the number, Texas is experiencing tremendous growth.  Part of that growth includes more vehicles on our roads.  This means more school buses, cars and semis on our roads creating congestion.  That is bad.  Doing nothing about the congestion.  That is ugly.

All of these new vehicles being added to roadways, and the thousands to come, will need adequate roads.  As we all know from history, roads are a key ingredient for economic growth and stability.  This brings me to ancient Rome.  The Romans were well known for being leaders in road building.  According to the History Channel, by 200 AD the Roman Empire had built 50,000 miles of roads.  Yes, these roads were used for the military.  But, they were also used to transport goods.  They were vital to a strong Roman economy.

Just as the Roman economy depended on adequate roads, so does the Texas economy.  Without good roads, our economy will be hamstrung.  We are all experiencing delays and congestion.  The road conditions in Texas will continue to deteriorate if we do not maintain what we have.  Furthermore, to accommodate the rapid growth in the number of vehicles we need to expand existing roads and build more.  A first step in accomplishing these two things is the passage of Proposition 1 (Prop. 1) which will be on the ballot in November.

Prop. 1 will dedicate money from the rainy day fund for transportation.  This will provide money for roads without raising taxes, creating new fees or new debt.  It will also be used to pay down existing debt on highway projects.  The money will only be used to maintain existing roads and build new ones.  The money cannot be used to build toll roads.  One key part of this is that the Texas Department of Transportation, which is the state agency responsible for maintaining and building roads, must identify $100 million in savings.  If we rid ourselves of the bad and the ugly without raising taxes or creating new fees and adding news debt, then that is good for all Texans.

-Andrew Biar

Comments are closed.