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Funding Texas' transportation needs

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Amarillo, TX - Ways to fund Texas' transportation needs are at the forefront of discussion Monday.

Some lawmakers are already laying the groundwork to address the issue more vigorously in 2015.

The house appropriations committee will hear testimony on several transportation financing proposals.

In the meantime, there's proposed legislation that would require voters to approve amending the state constitution to allow sending half of the oil and gas severance taxes to the state's highway fund.

It's estimated to steer about $900 million more to TxDOT per year.

Right now most of the state's transportation funds come from a 20 cent gas tax and vehicle registration fees.

But neither revenue source has kept up with inflation.

Over the last decade, Texas has increasingly relied on debt financing and tolls to expand its highway system.

TxDOT officials told lawmakers in January that the agency needs an additional $4 billion a year to maintain current traffic levels.

That's due to a strong population growth and rising costs.

Budget writers found the agency needs an additional $200 million a year toward narrowing that gap.

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