Secretariat he’s not, but he could still win the race. TWO STATE Senate seats are open with Jack Hightower of Vernon and Nelson Wolff of San Antonio running for Congress. Former State Sen. Joe Bernal, the little big man from San Antone, is running against State Rep. Frank Lombardino and David Evans in a three-way primary for Wolff’s seat. Rep. Ray Farrabee of Wichita Falls, who is reported to be a good guy. In one of the more entertaining announcement statements of the season, Rep. Henry Sanchez, who is challenging Sen. Raul Longoria, had himself described as.”quite a fellow.” That’s going to be a battle of titans. Filing time in the House always produces a lovely batch of names and home towns. Austin wins the best name prize with an entry in District 37-1 named Mrs. Exalton Delco. Best place name goes to the candidate from Leakery. Terry Canales of Premont, who was the only representative to vote against the ethics bill, has an opponent named Ernestine Glossbrenner. Zona Starr, Bill Human, Froy Salinas and a Mr. Ezzell who is opposing a Mr. Toombs from Fluvanna are all adding to the fun. We were overjoyed to see that Sonny Jones, our favorite Republican after Mad Dog Mengden, is on the comeback trail down in Houston. Paul Moreno, a Dirty 30ian from El Paso who lost a Senate bid in ’72, is running for the House again. And former Rep. Delwin Jones of Lubbock is challenging Rep. Elmer Tarbox: they used to be friends. There are some interesting races in Houston. We always said that Ray Lemmon would be back to haunt us he’s running against Rep. Joe Pentony. In Dist. 81 Woody Denson, a white liberal, is being challenged by John Molden, a black liberal. But Molden had a setback before he even got started: he is one of eight candidates who may be disqualified because of a technical error in paying their filing fees. Reps. Mickey Leland and Ben Reyes both drew opposition from La Raza Unida, leaving folks to wonder why La Raza doesn’t pick on bad guys. Total turnover will be relatively low members 77 of them have no primary opponents but more than half have competition in the general elections. The Republicans came on particularly strong in Houston and Dallas. Twenty-three reps are quitting or running for higher office. Four of the 15 senators up this year have no opposition. Every year about this time we console ourselves by thinking that next year’s turkeys can’t be any worse than this year’s turkeys. By Robin Cravey Austin The Highway Trust Fund, added to the Texas constitution by amendment in 1946, is no longer needed. The Constitutional Convention’s action on this fund should . tell us whether the new constitution will be written with a view to the needs of the future or the politics of the present. The first battle, fought around the table of the Committee on Finance, was lost to politics. When legislators came around in 1972, asking voters to give them permission to rewrite this basic law of Texas, they said the present constitution was worn out and cumbersome. They said it contained much that does not belong in a constitution, much that is subject to changing times. Legislators cited the 212 amendments to the Texas constitution as proof of its ponderousness. The 1946 amendment, channeling license plate and fuel taxes into highway construction, answered a temporary need with a perpetual cure. The U.S. constitution has no special funds guaranteeing a perpetual share of the people’s taxes to a particular segment of the economy. A Federal Highway Fund was created by Congress in 1956, but it is not a part of our national constitution. ARTICLE III, Section 7a of the Texas constitution provides that net revenue from motor vehicle registration fees and three-fourths of net revenues from taxes on all motor fuels and lubricants be restricted to “highway improvement, policing and administration.” The remaining one-fourth of the fuel tax goes to the public schools. In fiscal 1972, the Texas Highway Department received $265 million in revenues from the motor fuel tax. That same year the state collected $199 million in vehicle license fees. All of that money was spent on highways. To get a handle on these figures, compare them to these other appropriations for fiscal ’72 $1.6 billion for higher education, $6 million for parks and monuments, $32 million for the Department of Health and $397,000 for the Air Control Board. Highway mileage maintained by the Texas Highway Department has climbed from 26,327 miles in 1946 to more than 70,000 miles in 1973. State monies spent by the department have jumped over the same period from $43 million to $706 million. In addition to state tax money, the Highway Department receives federal funds Robin Cravey is the editor of Ecology in Texas \(all you subscribers, Robin still plans considered for the job of editing The Kountze News by Archer Fullingim himself. on a matching basis. In 1972 the department got $237 million from the feds. Spokesmen for the Highway Department say even more money must be spent in the future. Yet the interstate highway system, which was funded on a nine to one basis by the federal government, is 95 percent complete. It will be finished in the next five years, at an estimated total cost just in Texas, mind you of $2.5 billion. In addition, the Federal Highway Aid Bill, of 1973 raised the rate of matching funds on other projects from 50-50 to 70-30, thus stretching the power of state highway insists, “The great need for building highways is behind us.” The Highway Department bases its pitch for more and more pavement on a projection of more than 14 million cars on Texas roads in the year 2,000, twice as many cars as are registered today. The department also projected that fuel consumption will also triple, but that was prior to the present energy panic. Critics of the tax guarantee for highways are quick to admit Rep. Ron Waters of Houston goes so far as to declare himself “proud to admit” that Texas has the finest highway system in the nationa. Highway builders say that the perpetual fund is responsible for their success, because the fund has allowed them to plan years in advance. Highway planners also claim that, by putting their funds beyond the reach of the Legislature, the tax guarantee has taken Texas highways out of politics. Representative Agnich, a defender of the fund, remarked, “Because the fund was dedicated to highways and removed from political pressure, we don’t have the situation they have in New Jersey and Oklahoma and Louisiana where there’s fraud after fraud.” A Texas Public Interest Research Group report on the Texas Highway Department credits it with being “generally recognized as one of the most efficient, least corrupt highway departments in the United States.” The Texas Good Roads Association, a collection of contractors, dredgers, cement manufacturers, trucking firms and others who profit from highways, has waged a vocal and well-funded campaign to keep the good gold flowing. When Common Cause published a poll showing that 58 percent of Texas voters feel the highway fund money should be spent on mass transit as well as highways, the Good Roads folks produced their own poll showing that 60 percent want the provision left as it is. And the association published a brochure an inch thick containing miscellaneous statements in support of the March 1, 1974 5 The highway fund Flyin’ down the freeway
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