March 21, 2024 - -

Austin’s effort to build a high-frequency urban rail network is facing a challenge from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose legal arguments seek to dismantle the funding mechanism behind the voter-endorsed transit expansion.

In a court filing, Paxton slammed the city’s payment plan for the 10-mile light-rail starter system. The financial strategy was designed to navigate the increasingly tight strictures the state Legislature has placed on how Texas cities raise money.

If a court sides with Paxton, it could kill the light-rail expansion known as Project Connect.

In November 2020, Austin voters approved a 21% increase in the maintenance and operations portion of their property tax rate to fund the project. The tax hike generates about $166 million a year and growing.

Read more:

Editor's note: Paxton intervened but was not successful in another high profile rail case. On June 24, 2022, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure Inc. has eminent domain authority, greenlighting its proposed high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston.