Real estate developer Walt Mischer Jr. proposed today that the upcoming referendum on the diversion of transit sales tax revenue to 16 local governments for various projects be a choice between continuing the program more or less as is or capping it at 2014 levels as Metro chairman Gilbert Garcia has proposed.
The cap that Garcia has proposed would continue to divert 25% of transit tax revenues through 2014 and then would cap that dollar amount at least until 2030. If sales tax revenues rise, Metro would get the increment.
Mischer told the Greater Houston Partnership’s Transit Subcommittee that “there is going to be a lot of opposition to the cap being on the ballot” and suggested that if the only other choice is to discontinue the program, then if the cap is defeated Metro would get all of the transit tax. He suggested that would produce “blowback” in the State Legislature that would be detrimental to Metro.
Asked whether his proposal would fail to give voters a choice to actually end the program, which at least one survey shows is their preferred option, Mischer suggested there could be two ballot items.
Metro board member Christof Spieler noted that continuing the program would mean no useful expansion of the transit system after the current construction is finished.