State lawmaker says don’t sacrifice aquifer sales tax for VIA

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – A state representative from San Antonio says the city shouldn’t sacrifice Edwards Aquifer protection funds for  VIA Metropolitan Transit initiatives.

Republican Rep. Lyle Larson fired off a letter to Mayor Ron Nirenberg this week, saying “We strongly disagree with redirecting funding away from securing land around San Antonio to protect our water supply in favor of funding mass transit.”

The 1/8-cent sales tax,which amounts to about $40 million a year, pays for aquifer protection, linear parks and creekways.

“Voters have approved the aquifer protection tax four times,” said Larson. He told KTSA News the voters should decide whether they want to continue funding the Edwards Aquifer protection programs or use the sales tax for VIA, which would use the money for initiatives outlined in Connect SA, which include expanding transit signal priority to high-frequency bus routes and putting those buses on designated lanes on our existing roadways.

The mayor recently recommended having the San Antonio Water System take over the aquifer protection program, but the SAWS board this week said the program would be cut in half, and Larson suggests water rates would go up.

Larson says the city should use the Pre-K 4 SA sales tax instead.

“When the tax for Pre-K 4 SA was first approved in 2012, there was no state funding,” Larson said. “Now that the state stepped up its funding, I think the city of San Antonio should make a decision –do they want to pay for mass transit or do they want to do pre-K.”

The state legislature last year allocated funding to expand pre-K programs in public school districts.

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