TEXAS, USA — If your eyes glaze over when someone brings up “federal budget negotiations” or “continuing resolutions”, you’re probably not alone. But focus on both those potholes and stopped traffic ahead.
Remember the huge infrastructure bill from last year that was supposed to fix and expand roads, ports, airports, water pipes and broadband access, among other things?
Every Texas Republican in Congress voted against that infrastructure bill. Every Texas Democrat in Congress voted for it.
Overall, though, enough Republicans joined Democrats to pass it, and then President Biden signed it into law.
But since then, not enough Republicans and Democrats have been able to agree on a federal budget. They have instead passed three continuing resolutions. Those are short-term spending agreements to keep from shutting down the government.
But since they haven’t passed an actual budget, Congress hasn’t been able to allocate the actual dollars to some of the programs that were agreed to in the $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill.
Even though the bill was passed, it still needed to be funded with a new budget.
When the infrastructure bill is fully funded, Texas stands to get at least $35.44 billion. Most of that money will be for highways, which could use some help.
QuoteWizard estimates that poor infrastructure is costing each Texas driver $682 in repairs each year.
Congressional negotiators say they have reached a deal on a framework to pass a budget that would fund infrastructure and everything else, and that they are hoping to have it all done by March 11.
We’ll see -- and then, we will see if Texas turns down any of the money.
Governor Abbott has instructed state agencies to read the fine print carefully before accepting infrastructure dollars, telling them if the federal money comes with strings attached–like creating ongoing costs for Texas, or if there are provisions that are contrary to state policy, or any rules or regulations that constrain the state in any way -- to not sign the deal or request the federal funding.
Again, much of the infrastructure bill is still awaiting funding, so to date, the governor’s office says no money has been declined yet.
We’ll keep watching this once the money becomes available.