The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Opinion

April 14, 2013

Texas’ road to future looks rocky

Texas’ inadequate water system and crumbling road infrastructure are two of the biggest problems Texans will face in the coming decades.

The Texas Department of Transportation is quickly running out of money to build new roads and fix old ones, but with a population predicted to exceed 30 million within the next decade, Texans need new, well-built roads more now than every before.

Maintaining access to quality drinking water is an issue that all major cities face, particularly here in Texas, a state with few natural lakes and a strong ranching and farming sector.

Texas needs to commit a significant amount of money now to solving these two problems, if we are to overcome them.

The legislature is ready to do just that. A bill by the senate’s chief budget writer, Sen. Tommy Williams, would set aside $6 billion from the “Rainy Day Fund” to be used for water and highway infrastructure. The expenditure would reduce the fund by roughly half of its current $12 billion.

Traditionally, state Republicans have been very stingy with the Rainy Day Fund. But they recognize the danger of ignoring these problems.

Texas voters will have some very important choices to make this November when they vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to set aside the $6 billion.

We say: Go for it.

That being said, the money needs to be spent wisely, judiciously and carefully. Texas has cut a significant amount of money from extremely necessary programs, such as public education, so turning around and spending a significant amount of money can’t be done without careful planning. The legislature can’t just spend the Rainy Day Fund money at will. That would defeat the entire purpose of setting that money aside.

But we believe that the impending water and road crisis facing Texas is real and dangerous enough to warrant dipping into that fund. The gigantic Texas highway system is an integral part of maintaining our state’s strong economy, as well as attracting news businesses and industries.

Our road and water problems won’t go away with time. In fact, they’ll only get worse. Improving water and road infrastructure at the last moment will only be more expensive, time-consuming and straining for Texas residents.

The opinion expressed here is the opinion of the Herald-Banner editorial board. The board can be reached at editor@heraldbanner.com.

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