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San Antonio Leaders Lobby Legislators For Road, Higher Ed Funding

Ryan Poppe
TPR News
San Antonio Chamber President Richard Perez talks with Quorum Report Editor Harvey Kronberg.

Transportation was near the top of the list as more than 100 San Antonio civic leaders descended on the Texas Capitol Tuesday to press for measures important to the Alamo City.

As state lawmakers divvy up the budget, San Antonio leaders want them to make easing transportation gridlock a priority. 

“We need to continue funding our transportation network and I’m specifically talking about our road network.  Also intermodal operations for buses and for rail.  So we’re pushing really hard so that the legislature will provide additional dollars to help us do that,” said Richard Perez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber.

The Chamber’s legislative agenda calls for spending more of the dollars collected from the gasoline tax to improve highway infrastructure.  Right now a lot of that money is diverted for non-transportation projects.

The Chamber wants lawmakers to dedicate a portion of the vehicles sales tax for roads.

San Antonio officials also pressed lawmakers for something House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, is backing- revenue bonds that would allow the University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas A&M University-San Antonio to raise the money needed for new science and technology buildings.

“Our institutions are busting at the seams and they need those tuition revenue bonds to be able to expand their footprint to be able to educate more young people,” said Perez.

The long wish list included a desire to reduce standardized testing for students in kindergarten through eighth grades; a permanent source of funding to meet the growing public school population; regulation changes for groundwater use and economic incentives that would bring the film industry to Texas.

Chamber Chairman Henry Cisneros, City Manager Sheryl Sculley and representatives of San Antonio’s Hispanic Chamber also made the trip to the capitol. 

Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.