Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Reax Roundup: Water Funding a Go (If Voters Say So)

Graphic by: Todd Wiseman / Guillermo Esteves (Texas Tribune)

Lawmakers made good on a promise to fund the state's water plan, but a crucial part of that plan is subject to voter approval.

After days of negotiations, amendments and Star Wars references, the Texas legislature has finally put together a mechanism to start seriously funding water infrastructure and conservation in the state. But there’s a big “if” — voters still have to approve a crucial part of the plan this November. (For more on the details, read our earlier story on the plan.)

While many legislators and lobbying groups — from farmers to drillers to environmentalists — largely supported the plan to fund water projects, there was opposition from the Tea Party on infrastructure spending. Here’s some of the reactions to the water plan funding from groups for and against:

From the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, which opposed the plan:

“This bill puts in motion a plan to raid the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund for billions at a time when the state is enjoying unequalled prosperity. There is simply no excuse for lawmakers to tap the state’s savings account for water infrastructure projects when there is ample General Revenue funds in the budget to pay for the state’s needs. The Legislature is simply failing to prioritize.”

This is not the ideal way to run government.” — Talmadge Heflin, Director of the Center for Fiscal Policy

Environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy cheered the news:

“The Texas Legislature just made history in addressing our water needs for the future.  State leaders, after much hard work and compromise, voted through a set of bills that amount to an elegant trifecta, the impacts of which will endure for decades: the legislation invests $2 billion in the State Water Plan, explicitly highlights the critical role of conservation in meeting our water needs, and creates a structure for accountability and prioritization, so that the best projects happen first.” — Laura Huffman, Texas State Director

As did the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club 

“Although the legislative effort to fund the state water plan has had more bends than a river, it appears that the Texas House and Senate are successfully navigating the currents to reach that goal, subject to a final action by the voters. The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club has supported this effort to provide a new state water funding mechanism not because it is the final or complete answer to meeting our future water needs but because it is an important first step.  In conjunction with HB 4 – passed earlier this week – the state has made a commitment to funding conservation and has established a reasonable process for prioritizing water projects for state financial assistance. Texas needs to make further progress in water management, but the Legislature is taking significant action this week toward addressing our water future.” — Ken Kramer, Water Resources Chair

For now, the legislature has made good on its promise to pass a water plan this session. But funding it still depends on voters saying “yes” at the polls in November.



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