If you haven’t been paying attention, the Texas legislature is in session and facing a huge budget shortfall — with most estimates predicting a shortfall between $15 and 27 Billion. Because the Republican leadership is pledging not to raise taxes or tap into the state’s rainy day fund, the balanced budget will only be achieved through significant cuts and creative ways of raising additional funds (somehow this is different than a tax increase).
One of the creative funding mechanisms may help reduce the number of Texas car wrecks.
One of the proposals to raise more money contained in the House of Representatives’ budget is to ban the use of wireless communication devices while driving — in other words, no more texting while driving or talking on a cell phone while driving. If this is adopted, it will significantly improve the safety of Texas roadways. I’ve often written about the dangers of texting while driving (see a collection of some of my posts on texting while driving). It is a real threat, and making it illegal will likely help make the roads safer.
And how is this related to the budget? The Legislative Budget Board estimates that this move will generate $2.3 million. They’re not clear on how that will occur, but I’m guessing that it is through expected fines for those that will continue to violate the law.
I think this is also an interesting study on how to position legislation. For years, some legislators have championed the idea of banning cell phone use while driving because of the safety issues. As a safety issue, the idea has never received much traction. But if it now passes based on the argument that it’s a money making idea, it will be a telling lesson about the legislature’s priorities.