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AFL-CIO President Harry Hubbard, this is the best Texas Senate they’ve had to work with. That is partly due to an improved relationship between Lieutenant Governor Hobby and labor. Hubbard attributes this to Hobby’s pragmatism, to the fact that the experience of Hobby and his staff gave him an edge over White and Lewis, and to Hobby’s understanding of the importance of the labor vote in his last campaign. Regarding the failure to pass the sunset bill for the Texas Employment Commission, Hubbard was philosophical. Labor had not wanted any amendments on the bill because it feared the Texas Association of Business would at tempt to add anti-worker amendments. At the same time, they could not find fault with Sen. Lloyd Doggett’s amendment establishing a human relations commission. “Lloyd doesn’t have to apologize for his human relations position,” said Hubbard. Apparently the labor jury is still out on Governor Mark White’s performance this session. While the general labor assessment seems to be that White did as well as could be expected with an inexperienced staff, there does seem to be some consternation that a labor-proposed tax package was not given much consideration by the governor. Labor presented two versions of the tax package one in early April, another in early May that would have provided the 24 % teacher pay increase, raised the Aid to Families with Dependent Children to $72, and given a salary increase to state employees with a $100 increase as a floor. The package called for a .4 % increase in the severance tax for gas and a .5 % increase in the oil severance tax with no sales tax increase. White never discussed the proposal seriously with labor. Still, labor is giving White time to mend fences and to address the issues of pay increases and taxes in a special session. “We come out of a group that believes in apprenticeship,” said Joe Gunn. “He’s served his apprenticeship as governor this session.” Potholes in Highway’s Road By Susan Raleigh Austin DESPITE THE considerable lobbying efforts of the Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association and other highway boosters, the state highway department was not among the big winners in the appropriations game this legislative session. Instead of the $5.6 billion it asked for, the department received about $3.9 billion, including more than $900 million in new federal funds generated by the recent federal gasoline tax hike. Since last summer the highway lobby has been issuing grave warnings about the deterioration of the state’s highway system. Its aim was to convince lawmakers to support the highway department’s proposal to nearly double highway spending for the 1984-85 bienincrease funding depended on two things: that the state wind up the 1982-83 biennium with a hefty revenue surplus, part Susan Raleigh is a legislative researcher and free-lance writer living in Austin. Good books in every field JENKINS PUBLISHING CO. The Pemberton Press John H. Jenkins, Publisher of which could be diverted to highways, and that the Legislature double the state’s motor fuel tax. But the surplus,* estimated at $4.1 billion in January, had withered away by the end of the session, as Comptroller Bob Bullock repeatedly lowered his estimate of available revenue, and the House of Representatives balked at a tax increase. Consequently, the highway department wound up with about what it would have gotten without all the studies, statistics, and dire predictions. The lobby, needless to say, is displeased. Eugene Robbins of the Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association called the highway funding situation “a mess.” A state motor fuel tax increase, he said, is “essential and inevitable.” His group is trying to persuade the Governor to include highway funding in the call for a special session. Rick Salwen, chief lobbyist for Dallas multi-millionaire H. Ross Perot, campaigned alongside Robbins for increased highway funding. Salwen said the Legislature mistakenly thought the extra federal money Texas will receive over *What the news media and some legislators often call the “revenue surplus” is technically a combination of the previous biennium’s unexpended funds and the projected revenue growth for the upcoming biennium. The Comptroller’s Jan. 1983 Biennial Revenue Estimate put the 1982-83 surplus at $957 million, and the projected revenue growth for 1984-85 at $3.2 billion. the next two years will take care of the state’s highway needs. Both Salwen and Robbins maintain that the new federal money will only take care of ailing interstate highways and U.S. highways. Needed expansion and rebuilding of state highways and farm-to-market roads, they say, will have to be postponed or foregone. The picture may not be quite so bleak as the lobby is painting it though. Dennis Jones of the Texas division office of the Federal Highway Administration said that while most of the new federal money is designated for interstate and U.S. highways, Texas will get about $144 million per year in discretionary money. * The state could use these dollars for any road eligible for federal aid. Most state roads and many farm-to-market roads are eligible for federal aid, he said. In any case, the highway department’s 1984-85 appropriation is 34 % higher than its 1982-83 funding, a substantial increase considering the rather gloomy revenue picture. Even bad times are still pretty good times for highway funding in Texas. El * the discretionary money results from a provision in the Surface Transportation Act of 1982 that guarantees each state a return of at least 85 % of what it pays into the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Texas will benefit from this provision because its current rate of return is only about 76%. Jones said the money a state receives solely because of the 85% return provision may be used at the state’s discretion. 22 JUNE 24, 1983