Saturday, March 17, 2012

“Budget Scrubbing” Produces $2 Billion In Additional Texas Road Funds

In announcements puzzling Texas legislators, TDOT Chief Financial Officer James M. Bass says the agency has identified an additional $2 billion it can devote to major highway projects like expansion of Interstates 35W in Fort Worth and 35E in Dallas and Denton Counties. State Representative Joe Pickett of El Paso responded to the recalculation this way: “It sounds strange to me. I’d like to ask them where they’ve been printing money.”

According to Texas Transportation Commission member Bill Meadows of Fort Worth, “you effectively earn $2 billion by scrubbiung the existing system and managing the budget carefully.” TDOT officials say they had underestimated federal Highway Trust Fund contributions to be received by $750 million, overestimated current project costs by $650 million, and left untapped $600 million of borrowing power in the Texas Mobility Fund. Pickett’s reply: “They should be able to forecast better.”

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