Keep Texas Moving calls for private funding of state roadways
The Keep Texas Moving coalition is urging lawmakers to reauthorize the use of private funding for major roadways.
Aaron Cox, COO of the Texas Association of Business, says this step is necessary because of the projected nearly $5 billion shortfall to next year's state budget.
"Now is the right time because when traditional funds are declining, we need to allow the state to utilize private dollars to build the roads that we need," Cox said.
"The reality is if we look across our entire state, the citizens of Texas are kind of voting with their wheels. We know that there are over a million toll tags already in existence and people using them," Cox said.
"It's important to note that not only have we used this funding in the past, we've used it in very difficult times similar to what we're experiencing today," Cox said.
“We can’t do it alone”: Texans say federal leaders’ inaction on a new coronavirus aid package is endangering their livelihoods
It’s been a dizzying few days for Texans waiting to see if more assistance will come. Trump deflated hopes that an agreement would be reached soon when he tweeted Tuesday that he’d told his negotiators to halt discussions until after the Nov. 3 election. Later that evening, he seemingly walked back that request, calling for stand-alone bills funding specific programs, which U.S House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled she would not support.
Eddie Aldrete, the national affairs committee chair of the Texas Association of Business, stated “Texas businesses are doing their best to weather this pandemic and help our state and nation recover. We can’t do it alone, and we are hopeful that leaders in Washington can finally, for once, find common ground to provide a stimulus and relief package.”
Texas Association of Business ‘cautiously optimistic' about economy
Concerns persist about the decline in Texas tax revenues even as the number of COVID-19 cases decreases in the state and parts of the economy show improvement.
“The Texas business community is cautiously optimistic with the economic data we’re seeing coming out of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank and the Texas Comptroller’s Office,” Aaron Cox, chief operating officer of the Texas Association of Business (TAB), told The Center Square.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ most recent Texas Economic Update projected growth in the state’s economy for the rest of 2020, but uncertainty over further federal relief and the November election could temper that growth, WBAP reported.
State sales tax revenue totaled $2.57 billion in September, down 6.1 percent compared to the same month in 2019, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar reported.
Texas Leaders Hope Rapid Testing Will Restore Normalcy in the Pandemic. Health Experts Caution the Tests Have Limitations.
Gov. Greg Abbott has touted that Texas is set to receive millions of new rapid antigen coronavirus tests every month that deliver results in as little as 15 minutes.
Aaron Cox, interim chief operations officer and senior vice president of the Texas Association of Business, said rapid testing programs could be used in several different types of operations, such as restaurants, hospitals or manufacturing facilities.
He said rapid testing could restore the feeling of security needed for a true economic rebound.
“I think it's a benefit to the business for sure, but it's also a benefit to all of us,” Cox said. “Because to the extent that [the tests] can do ... what they do, we can all get back even more to patronizing those businesses and getting to work and getting to schools and doing all of the things that are going to lead to our long-term recovery.”
Texas Highway Funding Advocates Push for More Toll Roads
With the Texas House Committee on Transportation currently studying the funding of highways in Texas, advocates of toll roads and other funding methods are making their voices heard.
As part of the interim charge by Speaker Dennis Bonnen, the committee was tasked with investigating whether “the current mix of use fee-based funding for the state highway system, including registration fees, tolls, and fuel taxes, and [determining] if current funding generated is sufficient to maintain cost demands” — making recommendations for additional methods for funding road infrastructure projects.
The Texas Association of Business (TAB) launched “Keep Texas Moving” as a coalition to encourage private funding of roads. The website says, “Texas should welcome and harness private investment and managed toll lanes,” as a way to help with highway congestion.
Keep Texas Moving Coalition hopes private funding will help Texas roads
The Texas Association of Business launched a Southeast Texas coalition to focus on the state’s most gridlocked roads, with a goal to leverage public-private partnerships to ease the burden of infrastructure funding on taxpayers.
Sade Chick, manager of corporate affairs for the Port of Beaumont, said: “The Port of Beaumont is the fourth-largest port in the nation in terms of tonnage and contributes about $4.4 billion to the gross state product, while supporting around 67,000 jobs.
“When you start looking at Southeast Texas, you are talking about the No. 1 exporter of oil in the nation, the No. 1 exporter of liquid natural gas and the third-largest refining capacity in the United States. We are literally moving the nation forward.”
The Texas Association of Business Leverages Loan Information and the Return to Work Initiative to Advocate for Businesses
Many small and independent businesses struggle to maintain comfortable profit margins in a typical year. But with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the U.S. hard, 2020 is proving to be especially challenging.
Stay-at-home orders in the early months of the pandemic kept many businesses shuttered and customers at home. And with inconsistent federal leadership, states have been left on their own to figure out how and when to reopen businesses.
In the Lone Star State, the Texas Association of Business, aka TXBIZ, has been working to help affected businesses navigate these uncertain times. The association provides the latest information on how businesses can access credit, loans, and other valuable resources.
With its consistent focus on supporting the state economy, the Texas Association of Business’s actions may also help to provide a template for other states struggling with how to best navigate the COVID-19 pandemic through a safe and economic perspective.
Keep Texas Moving launches in Lubbock, targets to improve roads, create jobs and stimulate economic recovery
Kyle Jacobson the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce joined the Texas Association of Business (TAB) for the regional launch of Keep Texas Moving, a coalition to support innovative infrastructure investment in Texas to spur economic recovery, create jobs and build a better transportation system. The goal is to leave taxpayer dollars available for other essential spending priorities.
“Lubbock and West Texas residents and business leaders know that transportation improvements are critical to our state’s safety, economic opportunities, quality of life, and can stimulate job growth and speed our economic recovery from the COVID and energy crises that continue to ravage our entire economy,” said Aaron Cox, COO of the Texas Association of Business. “That’s why it’s time that Texas again look to the private sector, public-private partnerships and solutions like optional toll lanes to address the serious funding shortfall facing our state’s transportation system.”
Keep Texas Moving Coalition launches in El Paso; Group urges innovative funding solutions for Texas highways
In the face of a financial crisis from the coronavirus and falling energy prices, and with transportation needs already outpacing the state budget, El Paso area business and community leaders Monday urged state lawmakers to explore innovative funding sources to build and improve highways and bridges in Texas.
“The El Paso Chamber and our newly created Mobility Coalition agree 100% that it’s time for Texas to once again be open to private investment and other tools to fund needed roads and bridges,” said David Jerome of the El Paso Chamber.
“El Paso is a critical North American trade and commecial hub as the 10th largest inland port and 20,000 trucks using our stretch of I-10 each day. State leaders should resauthorize public-private partnership investment and allow local leasders to find innovative ways to improve transportation funding and stimulate needed economic recovery.”
Grocery stores prepare for second wave of panic buying during new COVID-19 spikes
Texas Association of Business CEO and President Jeff Moseley said both stores and suppliers learned their lesson from the first wave of panic shopping, and have improved availability of products.
"They've learned how to bring in extra supplies if there happens to be an item they believe will be necessary, they have created the ability to hold inventory. Under the original model of supply chain, there was no need to hold inventory. It was just in-time delivery. But now there's more value to hold inventory inside the store. There's going to be several things that we all learn going through the first wave, and there will be answers to those questions the second time around," Moseley said.
"The facts are Texas is ideally suited. We've got very strong infrastructure. We've got good highways, a wonderful truck system with suppliers, and we've got people that are providing produce, and they're growing lots of food and meats. We also have a dynamic trade relationship with Mexico, so we're right next door to a big producer. The infrastructure in place. It would never really be a scenario in Texas where there would be acute shortages. There might be from time to time some shortages caused by demand. The reality is Texas will not experience the shortages other states will see," Moseley said.
How Texas businesses are coping as COVID-19 cases surge
Texas Association of Business CEO and President Jeff Moseley joins Akiko Fujita to weigh in on how Texas businesses are faring after the state is curbing restaurant capacity & closing bars amid the spike in COVID-19 cases.
TAB's CEO, Jeff Moseley Discusses Texas' Paused Reopening
“Business owners are full partners in this discussion, and we want to make sure the cure isn’t worse than the disease we’re fighting.”
“Congress has an opportunity to go forward with legislation that will help protect small businesses. Because small businesses have been carrying the brunt of this and have been hit the hardest. There’s an opportunity for Congress to give some leg relieve so that they don’t feel like if they are following all the best practices they don’t have liability.
“It’s staggering the number of businesses in our association that have been impacted. We represent over half of our members are small business, we have very large and mid-size business, and we are the state chamber of commerce representing businesses in the great state of Texas. Every one of these entities has been impacted. And, in many case some of these businesses have been hit so hard it will be really hard for them to come back and survive.”
“But we do know this, we’re Texans and we have this great resolve about us, about running into adversity We’re a state that has challenges, but there is an opportunity for us to go forward even in the most difficult circumstances.”
Op-ed: DACA is essential to the success of the United States
During these uncertain times, it has been inspiring to see Texans helping Texans. Whether it is their neighbors, friends, co-workers or just an unknown group of people in need, Texans have risen to the occasion of helping and protecting those in their communities. I can't help but think of the many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who have done the same, and the relief they must feel with the recent Supreme Court ruling to continue the program's protections.
The DACA program has allowed immigrants who came to the United States at a young age, usually at around 6 years old, to be able to live, work and study freely while being protected from sudden deportation. For DACA recipients, the only home they know and recognize is the United States, and they have showcased over time what remarkable members of our society they have been. About 96% of DACA recipients are either employed or enrolled in school and contribute billions of dollars in local, state and federal taxes each year.
Business advice during Corona – TCOG facilitates economic seminar for local businesses and cities
Featured speaker was Jeff Moseley, former head of Economic Development and Tourism for the state of Texas, advisor to the Governor’s office, and current CEO of the Texas Association of Business, Texas’ largest business association. He spoke on funding updates, health concerns about returning to work, statewide economic recovery projections and investing in Texas.
He also highlighted legislation from the past and proposed, that could help the efforts. He offered one glimmer of real hope in his prognosis for the future: that some experts believe our recovery could be a V curve bounce back. A quick and strong recovery once we get through this, due to the strong business environment Texas has cultivated.
Herman: A pandemic’s toll on tolls, and other traffic updates
Traffic, or mobility as fancy people call it, used to be a fact-of-life problem around here. But, like lots of things that used to be a fact of life around here, that fact’s changed. Pandemics refocus priorities. Let me throw too many numbers at you concerning traffic in the MoPac express lane. That’s the one you have to pay to use. Is anyone using it now? A lot fewer people than did pre-pandemic.
In February of this year, there were 1,024,976 express lane transactions that generated $1,557,511 in revenue.
In April there were 106,493 transactions that generated $363,356 in revenue. That’s a 90% decrease in transactions and a 77% drop in revenue from February to April. Not surprising. I am surprised that anyone’s using the toll lane.But there also are toll lane numbers to support the notion that more people are getting out and about these days compared to a few weeks ago. The average per-day transactions for the first 12 days of May were 5,439. That’s up from 3,550 in April.
Texas Transportation Commission Ties Billions of Dollars to I-35 Central Project
Last year, the segment of I-35 through Central Austin ranked as the state’s second most congested roadway. According to Brian Barth, transportation program officer at TxDOT, the Capital Express project would likely move the corridor down to a spot in the 20s or 30s on the list of most congested roadways when the project is complete.
Jeff Moseley, CEO of Texas Association of Business, falls into the category of people TxDOT considers “for” the project while objecting to the proposed funding mechanism. “TxDOT is right to prioritize I-35 through Austin, but in these times of twin economic crises of oil and Covid-19, Texas should again utilize private funding and managed toll lanes to fix I-35, rather than spending $3.4 billion from TxDOT’s discretionary fund at this time,” he said.
Pfizer and BioNTech Dose First Participants in the U.S. as Part of Global COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Development Program
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) announced today that the first participants have been dosed in the U.S. in the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the BNT162 vaccine program to prevent COVID-19. The trial is part of a global development program, and the dosing of the first cohort in Germany was completed last week.
The Phase 1/2 study is designed to determine the safety, immunogenicity and optimal dose level of four mRNA vaccine candidates evaluated in a single, continuous study. The dose level escalation portion (Stage 1) of the Phase 1/2 trial in the U.S. will enroll up to 360 healthy subjects into two age cohorts (18-55 and 65-85 years of age). The first subjects immunized in Stage 1 of the study will be healthy adults 18-55 years of age. Older adults will only be immunized with a given dose level of a vaccine candidate once testing of that candidate and dose level in younger adults has provided initial evidence of safety and immunogenicity. Sites currently dosing participants include NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, with the University of Rochester Medical Center/Rochester Regional Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to begin enrollment shortly
A regional board of elected officials on Monday approved an influential plan comprised of hundreds of transportation projects with an estimated cost of $42 billion — but not without a certain degree of skepticism and disappointment at the final proposal.
The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization policy board approved its 2045 Regional Plan, a federally required document that lists about 600 projects across the organization’s six-county region.
There is still a funding gap of about $307 million, which TxDOT will consider allocating later this year, according to KVUE News.
Texas Association of Business CEO Jeff Moseley said the state should rely more on public-private partnerships to improve I-35 without increasing the burden on taxpayers. “TxDOT is right to prioritize I-35 through Austin, but in these times of twin economic crises of oil and COVID-19, Texas should again utilize private funding and managed toll lanes to fix I-35 rather than spending $3.4 billion from TxDOT’s discretionary fund,” Moseley said. “We need every funding tool in the transportation toolbox to keep Texas moving, especially during these times.”
The governor is hoping that if all goes well in phase one that those businesses could at least partially reopen in phase two, which could start in mid-May.
Thousands of businesses in Texas are ready to get back to work. Texas Association of Business CEO Jeff Mosley says companies have done what was asked of them, and the governor’s announcement this week is a huge sigh of relief.
“Texas has really complied fully with all the health practices on setting down and putting our businesses into a slumber;” Mosley believes Abbotts plan is balanced and well thought out.
I-35 expansion divides public opinion during economic downturn
Echoing the financial alarm, Jeff Moseley, CEO of the Texas Association of Business, urged the commission to consider private financing options in lieu of tax dollars to get the project done, citing the “double-barrel economic challenge” of sinking oil production revenues and sales taxes, two primary sources of state transportation funds. Moseley said private investments could be repaid with toll fees from drivers opting to travel in the project’s added managed lanes.
“This project is perfectly suited to harvest private financing to get it built timely, and especially in these economic times, saving billions in tax dollars for other important needs around the state,” Moseley said.
Colorado, Texas ease restrictions on businesses put in place for coronavirus
Jeff Moseley, chief executive of the Texas Association of Business, said there is a way for businesses to resume operations safely. He is part of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's advisory team developing guidelines for each industry on how best to keep customers and employees safe. They are investigating whether having barbers dressed more like dentists or having customers make appointments at car dealerships and shutting down showrooms are solutions that will make in-person interactions more safe.
Texans, he said, need hope.
"We Texans like to work," Moseley said. "This is really hard-hitting so we've got to find a way to get people to come back to work and use safety as our north star."
Gov. Abbott expected to announce more business reopening guidelines on Monday
Texas Association of Business President and CEO Jeff Moseley says this announcement has been long anticipated. "There's no doubt Texans are ready to get back to work. We have 2.7 million small businesses in Texas employing almost 5 million people. They're ready to have their jobs back," Moseley said. "The fact remains Texans are very industrious. We see there's a tremendous opportunity moving out of this tunnel, and getting back on the employment line, and I think that's going to be the spirit of the discussion tomorrow."
As of publication, Texas has seen 24,631 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 648 deaths, and 204 out of 254 counties reporting cases.
Is Now the Time for Texas to Build Expensive Highways, Toll Roads and Passenger Rail?
In Austin, organizations such as the Texas Association of Business, for example, have pushed for the state not to spend nearly $4 billion in state tax-supported dollars on rebuilding I-35 in Austin. That association favors using partnerships with private companies — including toll “managed lanes” built within a highway corridor that also has toll-free lanes — to help public, tax-supported dollars stretch further.
“There is a way to have fiscal conservatism and infrastructure stimulus at the same time,” Jeff Moseley, Texas Association of Business chief executive officer, said in an email. “If Texas re-authorizes public-private partnerships, private investment and managed toll lanes, some priority projects in our major metro areas could be jump-started. That would create jobs and boost local economies without placing additional burdens on Texas taxpayers, while helping government conserve state tax dollars for other needs.”
On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the first phase of his plan to reopen the state's economy, which has been mostly shuttered due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, by May 1.
The viral outbreak has crippled industries including hospitality and entertainment. Bars, restaurants and retail stores have cut down on business volume or closed altogether, costing employees their jobs. More than 1 million Texans have filed for unemployment relief since mid-March.
Hope rises in Texas as Senate cuts deal on $2 trillion stimulus
After days of negotiation between congressional Republicans and Democrats and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate leaders announced early Wednesday they had a deal, with hopes of passing the legislation today and getting checks out to Americans and loans to business and industry within weeks.
From the oil and gas fields to neighborhood cafes, from hotel maids to factory workers, Texans have watched hopefully as Congress moved toward passage on a sprawling $2 trillion stimulus package to keep the national economy from collapsing under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic.
Europe Travel Ban Another Coronavirus-Related Hit to Texas Economy
The U.S. ban on travel from Europe is the latest in a series of blows to the state and local economies — including cancellation of the South by Southwest festival, tanking oil prices and various directives to limit crowds — that have come in quick succession amid mounting coronavirus fears.
Texas, traditionally a top U.S. destination for foreign tourists, reaps about $7 billion annually from international travelers — a figure that’s close to 11% of all visitor spending in the state, according to the latest statistics available from the state’s economic development and tourism department.
Visitors from Canada and Mexico are among the biggest contributors, although Germany and other countries in Europe also are high on the list.