AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) — The Texas House could not pull together enough votes Monday to pass an ambitious transportation funding plan and the chamber's leader said further efforts would be futile.
"Legislators know that Texas needs a much more comprehensive approach to funding our growing state's growing transportation needs, and another 30-day special session will not change that," House Speaker Joe Straus said after the measure failed.
"Until members are free to consider real options - beyond simply shuffling taxes from one purpose to another - we will not find a responsible solution to this issue."
The remarks appeared to be aimed at Gov. Rick Perry, who has threatened to keep lawmakers in Austin until the come up with a funding plan for highways, roads and bridges.
"It is disappointing that some members of the House today needlessly delayed our state's ability to deal with the added strain our increasing population and surging economy are placing on our roads and highways," Perry said in a statement. "Legislators have been in Austin for nearly seven months now, and to go home without dealing with one of the most pressing issues facing all Texans is simply unacceptable."
State Rep. Joe Pickett, the El Paso Democrat carrying the measure in the House, had the same message as the speaker after the House fell far short of the 100 votes needed to send the proposed constitutional amendment to Texas voters in 2014.
Pickett said members need at least a few weeks to cool off and group before being asked to iron out their differences.
"Governor, if you're listening, don't bring us back tomorrow." Pickett said. "Don't bring us back tomorrow. Think about it. Sleep on it. Maybe, maybe if we had a few months or next spring when we've all slept a few nights, gone through maybe some tough primaries, maybe then but don't bring us back tomorrow."
Straus said it became clear that members had "become increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of diverting and indefinitely dedicating funds away from the Rainy Day Fund to roads."
"These funds were never intended to be a stable, long-term way to address our transportation needs," said Straus, R-San Antonio. "Diverting a capped amount of money from the Rainy Day fund to repair roads is much like using a Band-Aid to cover a pothole. In the end, you still have a pothole and you've spent a lot of money without solving the fundamental problem."
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