Bill passes in House to address Texas water needs, Turner supports, but will continue push to restore public education cuts

Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2013

AUSTIN — Lawmakers took a major step toward replenishing the state’s dwindling water supplies over the next half-century as the Texas House voted 146-2 to create a revolving fund to develop local and regional water projects.

House Bill 4, which now goes to the Senate, is part of a two-tiered legislative package to implement a 50-year water plan designed to ensure that the nation’s second-largest state will have an abundant source of water to supply its burgeoning population.

The next step — likely to be far more controversial — is approval of companion legislation, HB11, to withdraw $2 billion from the state’s rainy-day fund to seed the proposed State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT).

Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, authored an unsuccessful amendment that would have prohibited contractors on water projects from making contributions to a candidate for state office or to an office that has direct responsibility for awarding the contract.

“Overall, I think the bill is good,” Turner said. “Our region is growing, and we need to ensure that we have a stable and sustainable water supply for decades to come.”  But he also predicted a contentious debate on HB11, saying that “a lot of people would like to make sure public education is funded” before addressing infrastructure projects.