Ah jeez, it's tough to decide what the lead story should be today...the Austin Transit Partnership has unveiled its proposed light rail route for Project Connect on the same day that a bill at the Legislature aimed at killing Project Connect just got even worse.
Austin scrambles to kill Project Connect bill
A last-minute amendment by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) goes far beyond what was contemplated by the legislation initially introduced by him and Rep. Ellen Troxclair earlier this year. It would completely bar the Austin Transit Partnership from issuing bonds backed by the tax that voters approved in 2020.
I'm hearing conflicting interpretations of the implications ...
The less bad interpretation: In this scenario, the only casualty is ATP's ability to issue debt. Voters could approve a city bond election, and if approved the city could issue debt backed by the $200M/yr in taxes that Austin voters approved in 2020. The city would be responsible for the capital costs, and City Council would annually approve a transfer of funds to ATP to oversee the project and fund operations.
The more bad interpretation: In this scenario, the bill completely prohibits the use of the 2020 tax to finance project debt. So all of a sudden no entity (city, ATP etc) would be able to issue debt.