The 84th legislative session ended on June 1, 2015. See the bills that have become law.

Dedicating car sales taxes to the highway fund

Curated by Aman Batheja

Under a deal struck by House and Senate leaders in the Legislature’s final days, Texans will vote in November on a constitutional amendment that would dedicate a portion of future motor vehicle sales taxes to the highway fund beginning in 2019. The state will transfer 35 percent of that revenue stream’s growth beyond $5 billion beginning in 2020.

If approved, the amendment would also dedicate $2.5 billion of the general sales tax to the highway fund beginning in 2017. Both funding streams will have triggers attached to them in case of downswings in the state economy.

Since 2013, lawmakers had been seriously looking at dedicating the sales taxes currently collected on vehicle sales to road construction and maintenance. That revenue stream now flows into the state’s catch-all general revenue fund. Gov. Greg Abbott had proposed dedicating two-thirds of the sales tax collected, or more than $2 billion a year, to the highway fund.

Supporters noted that the revenue stream would grow as inflation causes the price of cars to go up in the future. Some Democrats expressed concern that dedicating such a large amount of funds to transportation would provide lawmakers fewer options to deal with other needs, such as education, in the future.

Updated: June 1, 2015

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The Texas Legislative Guide was designed and developed by Becca Aaronson, Emily Albracht, Daniel Craigmile, Annie Daniel, Ben Hasson and Ryan Murphy for The Texas Tribune. The Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern.