A Friday, June 26 article in the Dallas Morning News discussed the transportation funding shortage problems in Texas and featured Venable partner Jim Burnley's comments on the national transportation funding crisis.
According to the article, Texas Governor Rick Perry has summoned lawmakers back to the Capitol to keep the Transportation Department in business, but it will do little to keep traffic moving in North Texas or reduce its dependence on an ever-increasing number of toll roads.
The governor wants lawmakers to extend the life of the Texas Department of Transportation, which will be shuttered in 2010 if no action is taken. He also wants new legislation that will let the agency borrow $2 billion more for road building and to extend Texas' ability to enter long-term contracts with private toll road developers. The state faces a severe cash crisis that will probably stop nearly all new road building by 2012.
According to the article, some Texans want local lawmakers to look to Washington for help, especially given plans in Congress to pass a new six-year transportation bill that many predict will have hundreds of billions of dollars of new money in it. But on Thursday, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation James Burnley, who served under President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview that such hopes are misplaced - at least anytime soon.
According to Burnley, the federal system, which also depends on gas-tax receipts, is in even worse shape than Texas. And there is "absolutely" no way a transportation bill will pass this year, he said, noting President Barack Obama's focus on health care.
"There is no solution in the next two years," said Burnley. "We have got a hellacious mess on our hands."