AUSTIN, Texas - Voters have approved a ballot referendum taking billions of dollars from Texas' Rainy Day Fund for roads and transportation infrastructure projects.
Tuesday's passage of Proposition 1 creates a constitutional amendment that diverts half the funds that flow into state cash reserves and instead sends them to a highway fund.
Booming oil and gas industries have bolstered the Rainy Day Fund, now worth about $9 billion.
The amendment means up to $1.7 billion for roads the first year. Its value will fluctuate later depending on oil and gas revenues.
Transportation officials have suggested that because of the state's growing population at least $4 billion in annual spending will be required just to maintain current traffic levels on jammed Texas roads.
But supporters say the measure's a good start.
Late Tuesday, Scott Haywood, the president of Move Texas Forward, a nonprofit whose mission is to educate Texans about the policies and infrastructure development, issued the following statement on Prop. 1's passage:
"Tonight Texans from across the political spectrum came together to fight traffic, save lives, and create jobs. Texans have sent a strong message that they want reliable funding for our state's highways. TxDOT now stands to receive an additional $1.7 billion for road and bridge projects in the next year without new taxes, tolls, or debt. However, passing Proposition 1 was just the first step in addressing the transportation funding shortfall in Texas. We look forward to continue working with our coalition partners as we fight for the additional funding for transportation that will move Texas forward."
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