AUSTIN, Texas -

The Texas House passed a new funding mechanism for highways, sending the proposed constitutional amendment to the Senate.

Lawmakers on Thursday rallied to exceed the two-thirds majority needed to divert money from the Rainy Day Fund. The oil and gas tax revenue will instead go into the Available School Fund, which currently receives some money from gasoline taxes. If approved by voters, all of the gasoline tax will go to roads in the future.

Experts say Texas needs a $4 billion a year in new spending to maintain the existing transportation system. The new mechanism would bring in more than $800 million a year.

But tea party groups don't want to divert money from the Rainy Day Fund without setting a minimum balance, which has support in the Senate.