DALLAS – State Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, said Texas should consider establishing a state infrastructure bank to help Houston and the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Harvey.
“When I was thinking about what can we do here, the first thing that came to me is how we’ve done some other things. You know we just set up a state infrastructure bank for water,” said Simmons during an appearance on WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics this morning. “At the end of the day it takes money to get these things done.”
The state representative said he has discussed his idea with Governor Abbott and Speaker of the House, Joe Straus.
“We’ve got over a million homes with some kind of damage [on the Gulf Coast]. That means we’ve displaced a lot of Texans. They need to get those homes repaired for two reasons. They need to get back in the homes and not sure temporary housing. And secondly, that affects the revenue for those local jurisdictions down there. If we don’t get those homes repaired there’s going to have to be reappraisals and that could hurt the revenue.”
Establishing an additional state infrastructure bank could issue bonds that could be used to either back up loans that are made by other banks, explained Simmons.
“We would get paid back. It wouldn’t be a loan,” added Simmons.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a former state lawmaker, wanted Governor Abbott to tap the state’s rainy day fund to help pay for the recovery so the city wouldn’t have to raise property taxes.
Abbott instead took Houston a check for $50-million which prevented a property tax increase.
But Simmons said the rainy day fund would have other uses after this hurricane which brought unprecedented rainfall.
“I’m not sure that would be enough if you used it all. Secondly, I think the rainy day fund will be more used to bring back into line state agency budgets,” he added. “Hopefully oil and gas prices will stay above $50 a barrel and we’ll be able to have additional revenue we weren’t planning on,” said Simmons.