House Speaker Says Idea Worth Exploring
Texas' exploding population and aging roads have some lawmakers thinking about a rise in the state's driver's license fee. House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) has suggested raising the license fee to generate more revenue for roads and transportation projects. The current license fee for Texas drivers is $25 every six years. Straus says that low cost has been taken for granted, and it's something at least worth looking at. Houston-area Representative Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball) is willing to listen. "If we can find an area like this that would be plausible and reasonable, and something that folks would agree with, I think it's not a bad idea," she tells KTRH.
Riddle says she agrees with Straus that the current fee is a pretty good deal. "I think $25 every six years is quite reasonable for making sure we've got good roads, good transportation, and keeping the roads repaired." Still, she notes that the rapid growth of population and industry in the Lone Star State has left our roads in need of attention. "About 1500 people a day are moving to Texas," says Riddle. "There's more traffic, there's more wear and tear on the roads, and with the Eagle Ford Shale we've got more heavy equipment being hauled back and forth."
Even if the idea of a license fee hike gains traction in Austin, lawmakers would have to decide how much to raise the fee. A proposal to raise the fee by $8 failed in the 2011 session. And it remains to be seen if Governor Rick Perry would support the idea. In his State of the State Address last week, the Governor called for taking $3.7 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund for water and road projects. At this point, Rep. Riddle is open to all ideas on improving Texas roads. "The Speaker may very well have a good idea that we may need to go ahead and explore," she says.