09.30.14

The Lt. Gov. Debate – A Clear Choice Between Moderate and Extreme

Posted in Around The State, Election 2014 at 9:43 am by wcnews

Who won the debate…who knows.  Debates aren’t won on tearing down the opponents argument, they’re won on perception.  This is a fair synopsis of what went on – Patrick, Van de Putte go on attack in debate.

The state senators vying to be Texas’ next lieutenant governor tore into one another Monday night during their only scheduled debate, clashing on immigration, education and tax policy while accusing each other of misrepresenting their legislative records.

Republican Dan Patrick, a conservative Houston radio talk show host and tea party darling, is favored in November — meaning San Antonio Democrat Leticia Van de Putte had the most to gain. She came out swinging, saying her opponent supports higher sales taxes but has refused to divulge his own federal income tax returns as other top candidates have.

“He wants to raise your taxes but he won’t release his,” Van de Putte said, accusing Patrick of backing a “tax swap” that would mean higher sales taxes so that he could lower property taxes.

Patrick countered that he’d lower property taxes first, then study increasing the sales tax “by a penny or two” so he could cut homeowners’ tax burden even more.

“My opponent is the one who wants to raise every tax she can find,” Patrick said. He also said he’d released 160-plus pages of financial disclosure information as a state senator, which he said would be more informative than a personal income tax return that ran about eight pages.

Van de Putte, who works as a pharmacist when she is not in the Legislature, grinned and concluded: “There’s two people on this stage and I’m the only one who doesn’t want to raise your taxes.”

Unlike last week’s Davis/Abbott debate I was able to watch most of this one. My perception was they both looked about like expected.

Van de Putte espoused a mainstream business-friendly, socially liberal, modern day Texas Democrat stance on the issues – for education (invest), health care (expand coverage), women’s health (bring it back), and taxes (more progressive).

Patrick on the other hand did not try to hide his extreme right wing agenda on education (more cuts), health care (none), women’s health (end it) and taxes (more regressive).

It was obvious after the debate that there’s a clear choice. Not left or right (there is not left in Texas right now), but moderate or extreme.

Further Reading:
Burka. PDiddie.

09.29.14

What Would It Take? More About Abbott and the TEF

Posted in Around The State, Election 2014, Uncategorized at 2:30 pm by wcnews

The question Paul Burka asks regarding the latest Perry scandal, that’s now ensnared Greg Abbott, is easy to answer: Why is it not an impeachable offense?

Perry and Abbott are Republicans, and the Texas GOP controls every branch of government. And there is no way the GOP is going to start impeachment proceedings against it’s sitting Governor and Attorney General.

The GOP’s main concern is winning the next election. And as far as the Texas GOP is concerned Perry and Abbott are just proving what they’ve been saying for decades: the government can’t be trusted. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The GOP has been denigrating government for so long that not only have they deadened the citizenry when corruption occurs, they’ve become the worst offenders.  In this case they are unlikely to be punished for it. Likely making the public even more distrusting and cynical of their government….they all do it!  They wouldn’t if there was a price to be paid for it.

Whether you “hate” government or not, this is not how we want our government to work. Those that betray our trust should be removed from office and punished. If not, there is nothing to stop the next elected official from doing the same if not worse.

The question remains, is something like this enough to get voters to change their mind about Greg Abbott and the GOP?  If not then what would it take?

Further Reading:
Could the Growing TEF Scandal Change the Dynamics of the Governor’s Race?

Abbott Corrupt Like Perry Regarding Enterprise Fund

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Corruption at 8:03 am by wcnews

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[UPDATE]:  Via Slater, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has called on GOP opponent Greg Abbott to return $1.4 million in contributions from beneficiaries of the Texas Enterprise Fund and for an independent investigation into Abbott’s role keeping secret records of the troubled agency.

“Greg Abbott used the power of his office to orchestrate a cover up of the transfer of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to companies who never even completed an application for the funds – blocking the release of applications he knew didn’t exist,” Davis said.

“Mr. Abbott did not recover one dime of taxpayer dollars for the Enterprise Fund. Instead, he accepted more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions from the very taxpayer funded grant recipients he was supposed to be watching – and helped hide the fact hundreds of millions of our tax dollars were handed out without any oversight or accountability.”

Via Wayne Slater, Greg Abbott shielded problem-plagued business fund by withholding applications that didn’t even exist.

A decade ago, Attorney General Greg Abbott invoked a cloak of secrecy around the Texas Enterprise Fund. When The Dallas Morning News requested the application of a company seeking taxpayer subsidies, Abbott said no. He ruled that the applications for money from the $500 million job-creation fund might contain confidential corporate information. The company was Vought Aircraft, which wanted a $35 million subsidy to expand in the Dallas area. As it turns out, there was no application, a new audit found.

Had the attorney general responded to the newspaper’s open-records request in 2004 by disclosing that Vought – and other businesses with their hands out – were getting millions in state money without submitting applications or specific promises to create jobs, it might have been an early signal of problems bedeviling the fund. Abbott has received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from companies that got state money.

[...]

Abbott is the Republican nominee for governor. The Abbott campaign did not respond directly to the question why Abbott formally blocked release of an application that didn’t exist. His Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, sponsored the bill asking for the audit of the problem-plagued business-subsidy fund.

In 2004, when The News initially sought the Vought application, Perry’s chief of staff, Phil Wilson, said the governor’s office didn’t object to releasing the applications. But he pointed to the Abbott ruling that “we would be in violation of the law if we released the document to you.”

Last week’s audit found that in the case of Vought, which was acquired by Triumph Aerostructures in 2010, auditors couldn’t determine how many jobs actually were created. What they did find is that at least 450 of those jobs should have been disqualified, including eight jobs in Everett, Wash., 144 posts that were empty for more than a year, 110 that weren’t full-time jobs and 174 contractor positions. Under terms of the agreement, the recipient paid back some money, but undercalculated the amount owed the state. [Emphasis added]

What an Attorney General with integrity would have said was that Vaught did not submit an application, so there’s nothing to rule on. But he instead decided protect the scheme, the governor, and his campaign contributors.

It’s pretty obvious that Perry and Abbott knew things were going on with this “fund” that the public wouldn’t like and they made a decision to keep it quiet, and out of the public eye, for as long as they could.  They can’t do that any longer.

 

TPA Blog Round Up (September 29, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 7:50 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone read at least one banned book last week as it brings you this weeks’ roundup.

Off the Kuff presents interviews with two of the many dynamic and well-qualified Democratic women running for legislative offices this year, Rita Lucido in SD17 and Susan Criss in HD23.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos laments the dire consequences of voting Republican or of not voting at all. Oh come on Texas, surely we can do better than THIS?

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Abbott’s transportation TV ad is full of dissembling, Abbott’s Fundamentally Dishonest Transportation Ad.

Eric Holder was certainly not as bad as Alberto Gonzales, but his tenure as US attorney general still did not merit a passing grade, at least according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value said there is no inherent conflict between involvement in traditional politics, while at the same time looking for non-conventional protests and movements as a way also to move society in a better direction. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Though the new routes are far from being finalized,Texas Leftist shares that Houston METRO has now fully committed to the System Reimagining Plan. After this week’s vote by the METRO board, there’s no turning back.

====================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

SciGuy gives us a look at Russia’s astronaut training facility.

Newsdesk reports on Rep. Dawnna Dukes’ abortion disclosure.

The Great God Pan Is Dead argues for the elimination of art fairs.

Texas Clean Air Matters cheers Austin and San Antonio’s leadership in clean energy.

Andre Grimes points and laughs at Breitbart Texas.

The Bloggess encourages you to support your local no-kill animal shelter.

The TSTA blog calls out Greg Abbott for lying about his authority as AG to settle the school finance lawsuit.

The Current has more reporting on the shady practices and uninformed advice at crisis pregnancy centers.

Scott Braddock tells the tale of a wingnut catfight.

09.26.14

More Trouble For Perry – Shocked To Find Corruption Going At Enterprise Fund

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Corruption at 10:40 am by wcnews

One of the most enduring lines of attack by conservatives over the decades, and most blindly lapped up by too many voters, have been their attacks on big government.  Inherent in that attack is that ending government programs and handing them off to the “free market” and corporations will make it all better.

But that’s not the case.  No state and governor has been a bigger proponent of this ideology then Texas and Rick Perry.  So it’s not surprising that his enterprise fund scheme is looking worse then the big government they’ve denounced over the years.  Via the Express-News, Scathing audit rakes governor’s office over Texas Enterprise Fund.

Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund doled out hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to businesses and universities that never formally applied for the funds, according to a scathing new state audit that casts a shadow over one of the potential presidential candidate’s signature programs.

The 107-page state auditor’s report raised concerns over nearly every aspect of the “deal-closing” fund, from initial oversight of how grants are awarded to the mechanisms by which the state recoups taxpayer money when an investment fails.

Faulty monitoring and reporting meant the office of the governor often failed to live up to its own policies, as well as requirements for the fund laid out in state law, auditors said.

The revelations had the governor’s office in a defensive stance Thursday as activists balked over oversight deficiencies and at least one congressman called for a criminal inquiry. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is supposed to sign off on all awards, said he would not OK any more grants until the auditors’ recommendations have been fully implemented.

One of the most damning revelations in the audit found that 44 percent of the total fund disbursements — $222 million over 10 years — went to entities that never submitted a formal application or were not required to create jobs, including $50 million each to the University of Texas at Dallas and Texas A&M.

“As a result of the weaknesses in the office’s monitoring, it was not possible to determine the number of jobs that recipients of awards from the Texas Enterprise Fund have created,” the audit noted. “Those weaknesses also affected the office’s ability to impose clawback penalties on recipients for noncompliance with the requirements in their award agreements.”

Of course the Democrats are trying to stick this to the GOP, and the GOP is running from it like roaches when the lights are turned on.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, a Democrat who as a former Austin mayor has supported the incentives, on Thursday called for a halt in disbursements “until we can ensure integrity of the Enterprise Fund.”

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, part of the Texas House when its members unanimously approved the fund in 2003, went further.

“The results of the audit are extremely disturbing,” Castro said. “They suggest a criminal malfeasance or corruption among those responsible. I fully expect that state and federal authorities would review this situation for any activity that may violate the law.”

He also expressed dismay that this week’s report marked the first time the state performed a comprehensive audit of the fund, required after lawmakers passed legislation in 2013 to mandate such a review. State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, sponsored the legislation.

“This is exactly why we need to root out the old insider network in Austin,” Davis said in a statement, recycling a line she uses to criticize her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott. “As governor, I will protect taxpayers by ensuring that the Texas Enterprise Fund is working with proper oversight and transparency to create good paying jobs and to attract new businesses that will ensure Texas continues to lead in the 21st century.”

And the oversight of a GOP-controlled legislature was non-existent.

Critics say the state’s incentive programs amount to little more than political slush funds, handing Perry million-dollar photo-ops and encouraging quid pro-quos with top donors.

Even Republicans expected to win the state’s top jobs have criticized the incentives, with Abbott saying government should “get out of the business of picking winners and losers” and GOP nominee for lieutenant governor Dan Patrick calling for the fund’s elimination.

The governor’s office has sole control over negotiating and issuing grants from the fund, with the lieutenant governor and house speaker required to sign off on final agreements. The audit, however, found House and Senate leaders often were not properly included in the process.

“The Office did not consistently provide decision makers with complete and accurate information related to potential Texas Enterprise Funds,” the auditors wrote.

But that’s what happens when a governor of a one-party state stays in office four 14 years. Everyone in the GOP is shocked, shocked to find corruption going on here.

09.24.14

Abbott’s Fundamentally Dishonest Transportation Ad

Posted in Around The State, Transportation at 9:10 am by wcnews

If you believe a word of what Greg Abbott said in his most recent ad regarding transportation in Texas you’re an idiot.  Christy Hoppe get’s the ball rolling, Greg Abbott ad touts highway funding but leaves key question unanswered.

He said he has a plan that “adds billions for new road construction without raising taxes, fees or tolls. We pay for it by ensuring that money dedicated to roads will be spent only on roads — and no more taking highway funds by the Legislature to pay for their pet projects.”

Abbott’s campaign points to the Legislature, which takes gas taxes and other revenue earmarked for highway maintenance and construction and spends it on ancillary items to fill budget gaps.

Of the roughly $10 billion raised every two years for roadways, $1 billion is diverted. Most of that diversion ($813 million) goes to the Department of Public Safety to pay for highway patrols. Some goes to the state insurance agency to enforce that drivers are carrying liability insurance.

Another $12 million of those legislative “pet projects” goes to the agency Abbott heads, the attorney general’s office, to pay for legal work on right-of-way acquisition for roadways.

[...]

Even so, experts estimate that Texas still needs billions more annually just to keep up with growth and maintenance of current highways. A constitutional amendment on the November ballot asks voter permission to route part of future oil and gas taxes to highway construction. Both Abbott and Democratic opponent Wendy Davis support the proposed amendment.

Abbott’s campaign did not identify how it proposes replacing the $1 billion taken out of agency budgets biennially and sent back to highways. But it pledges to do it within existing revenues.

Ending diversions has been a do-nothing talking point for several election cycles in Texas. It doesn’t happen. Mainly because if the diversions are stopped then the money has to be made up somewhere else (taxes), or cuts must be made – as Abbott seems to be proposing. And it’s easier for the GOP to just pass a Constitutional Amendment and slough the burden off on taxpayers, aka Proposition 1.

The fundamental dishonesty of Abbott’s ad is that ending diversions will not free up “billions” and he doesn’t say what he would cut to make up the revenue.

But the part that’s left out of the ad and the article is how we got here in the first place. Roads cost money, and the politicians running our state government for the last 20 years have been unwilling to raise taxes to pay for the state’s transportation needs. Instead we’ve been using debt and toll taxes to pay for a few band aid solutions.

The biggest problem is that there’s been no coherent planning for our future transportation needs in Texas. How can there be? Just look at the political situation in Texas.  If there’s no funding to pay anything in the future, then there’s not need to plan.  The only plan seems to be to let the free market and corporations take care of our roads. That is until they go bankrupt and the taxpayers of Texas have to bail them out.

To call Abbott’s transportation “plan” a joke it too nice.

09.22.14

The Neglect Of Public Education In Texas Will Not End Anytime Soon

Posted in Commentary, Education, Public Schools at 9:53 am by wcnews

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Texas is not a state known for being proactive when it comes to public education.  Neglect and procrastination is the strategy.  Texas, almost always, does nothing on this issue until the courts force The Lege to act.  And we’re in the middle of that process once again.

This post from Quorum Report paints a pretty dismal picture for the future of education funding in Texas, Road to school finance solution looks bleak.

Session after session, lawmakers have avoided adding new money to the school finance system and even limited school district tax increases. Now the hole is so huge that it is impossible to find a solution in the state’s typical bag of tricks. The proceeds from the tobacco settlement or additional vice taxes won’t be enough.

The target revenue solution of 2006 was a temporary agreement between state leaders and education leaders, but District Judge John Dietz noted in his opinion it has done nothing but widen revenue gaps between districts. The excess of the state’s Rainy Day Fund would barely prop up the system for a year. And Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, continues his drum beat during hearings in which he insists that Texas cannot bond its way to economic prosperity. Bonding is finite, not infinite.

This is not a $3 billion Medicaid shortfall or $5 billion infusion for TxDOT, which almost seems doable. This is $10 billion plus growth, plus allotment formulas that haven’t been updated in decades. In essence, what lawmakers are doing is creating a budget log jam.

As it stands, a real solution seems a bigger problem than either the Democrats or Republicans can handle. It is one thing to talk about restoring a one-time $5.3 billion cut. Economic growth can cover that. It’s another thing to recognize the state has no obvious revenue source to prop up schools to the tune of $10 billion a biennium.

There’s is no one in office or currently running for office that is proposing a real plan to fix public education in Texas.  All candidates are proposing to do something, but nothing that will significantly change public education funding.

To fully understand what happened and why, the GOP tax swap scheme of 2006 must enter the conversation, Understanding the budget and Texas’ structural deficit.

The driving factor is a decision by Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature in 2006 to reduce property taxes by $14 billion every two years and raise only about $9 billion to replace that money. In other words, the Legislature committed $5 billion every two years to holding down property taxes instead of spending that money on education, public safety or other priorities.

Then the state’s new business tax brought in drastically less than projected, and that $5 billion gap turned into a nearly $9 billion gap. Lawmakers from both parties did little to address that reality when they met in 2009, and in fact they made the gap a little wider by exempting 40,000 small businesses from the new tax.

It’s disingenuous to blame Democrats for what happened in 2009, they held no real power in state government then. Where Democrats are to blame, then as now, is not offering a clear and different solution from the GOP. There’s a reason for that. The only solution to this problem involves raising taxes and making them fair, which means a state income tax. It’s not likely the public education finance issue in Texas will ever be solved without a state income tax.

The QR story never mentions an income tax, and it would have been a surprise if it did.  The issue also cannot be solved as long as our state government is run by right wing ideological extremists that have it out for public education.

More from the earlier post:

Essentially what all of this shows is that much of Texas’ deficit was pre-determined, no matter how the overall economy in Texas and our country overall has been functioning. And while our governor is on TV telling us how many times he “cut” taxes, he won’t say anything about the structural deficit he signed into law in 2006. And Perry’s GOP opponents are quick to chastise him for the 2006 tax swap scheme because it raised taxes on corporations and some business, they don’t mention the fact that it created structural deficit. Probably because if they did they would have to say what the would do to fix it, and they don’t want to debate that.

As another CPPP report points out, “..Texas is a low-tax state, with a structural deficit.” If we want to educate our children it’s going to cost money. And it’s untrue, no matter how many times that guy with the good hair on TV says it, that Texas can provide the essential services to it’s people, do what’s morally right, allow them to live with dignity and have tax cuts too.

Texans have to realize that to fix this mess we can’t keep electing the same folks that created it. To fix it those in office would have to admit their ideology is failed, and that won’t happen. Only defeat at the ballot box can do that. And, unfortunately, it seems we’re still years away from enough Texans figuring that out.

TPA Blog Round Up (September 22, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 7:56 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes it had as much vacation time as Congress does as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff highlights the wit and hateful wisdom of Dr. Steven Hotze, one of the leading blights of the anti-gay movement in Texas.

Libby Shaw writing at Daily Kos believes there is a simple way to stop the controversial Tea Party candidate Dan Patrick from becoming the next Lt. Governor. Vote for Leticia. When Democrats vote Democrats win. How are we going to stop Dan Patrick? Easily. Vote for Leticia.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. While Texas has been prosperous in recent years, the prosperity is not being enjoyed by everyone. Abbott’s Message Is Good News For Corporations, Scraps For The Rest Of US.

The only constitutional amendment on the November ballot commits over a billion dollars a year to state highway maintenance from the Rainy Day Fund. Some think that’s a good idea, and some don’t. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks — with the help of Sen. Kirk Watson — that you should decide for yourself.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote that the recent terrible ambush shooting of Pennsylvania state troopers is believed to be the deed of an extreme anti-government individual. Neil says that police would be better served focusing on real threats than pepper-spraying Occupy Wall Street types or sending tanks to Ferguson, Missouri. APHV is one of many pages worthy of viewing at NeilAquino.com.

With the first General Election Gubernatorial Debate in 8 years, everyone can agree that it was an exciting week in Texas politics. Texas Leftist has a full review of the contest. Who knew Greg Abbott was such a compelling liar??

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Better Texas Blog presents a report showing the large impact that medical bills resulting from a visit to the emergency room can have.

The Texas Election Law Blog catches Greg Abbott playing the race card in the followup to the Houston Votes story.

Nonsequiteuse pushes back on sexist tropes in the latest iteration of the Wendy Davis divorce story.

Newsdesk reminds us that the allegations Wendy Davis is making about Greg Abbott in the Texas Youth Commission sexual assault scandal go way back, and the questions she’s raising have been raised before without being answered.

Grits puts the privately-run Bartlett State Jail on the list of facilities the Legislature might consider shuttering if they decide to close more prisons.

The TSTA Blog takes Texas Monthly‘s Erica Greider to task for buying into Republican flimflammery about funding cuts to public schools.

Stephanie Stradley tackles the complex question of what a sensible discipline policy for NFL players might look like.

Unfair Park highlights a video expose of crisis pregnancy centers, including one in Dallas.

Project Q Houston interviews Mel Gonzales, a transgender student who was named Homecoming King at his high school in Sugar Land.

09.19.14

Statesman Endorses Democrats Bucy and Osborn over GOP Incumbents

Posted in Election 2014, HD-136, HD-20, HD-52, Williamson County at 8:15 am by wcnews

In two Williamson County  house races the Austin American Statesman has endorsed Democratic challengers Chris Osborn (HD-52) and John Bucy (HD-136) over the GOP incumbents.  One big reason is the incumbents votes against public education, and continuing to neglect the needs of Texas, Change needed in some districts.

As the 28th fastest-growing county in the country, according to the latest census report, Williamson County faces significant challenges: from transportation to affordable energy; from education to job creation; and from financing infrastructure to maintaining a quality of life. Addressing those challenges takes strong leadership, and on Nov. 4, voters will have to determine whether the three incumbent state representatives in Districts 20, 52 and 136 have done enough for the area, or if it’s time for a change. In two of the three races, we believe a change is needed for Williamson County.

Both the GOP incumbents in these races voted for a voucher plan last session that ultimately failed.  Larry Gonzales (HD-52) went along with the extremists in the GOP in 2011 and “supported the massive education budget cuts”. They endorse Osborn stating:

Osborn, an attorney, wants to not only make public education a priority but also wants to help our state and local governments be more efficient and transparent, if he is elected. Though he is the underdog, Osborn understands planning for the future is the best way to address the issues of a fast-growing district. His willingness to work with both sides of the aisle should serve him well if elected.

In HD-136 they mainly take issue with Dale’s vote for a voucher program while leaving out his lying about his opponent. They endorse Bucy this way.

…Bucy has a vision to help fight for quality public education for all Texas children if he is elected. He has a multi-faceted approach for traffic solutions and understands that Williamson County needs to bring in more professional jobs to the area. He is a refreshingly strong candidate in a county that has struggled to mount a significant Democratic presence with viable candidates.

In the other district that includes Williamson County HD-20, (the reddest of the three districts), they endorse the incumbent Republican Marsha Farney over Democratic candidate Steve Wyman.  Farney may be the most sensible Republican of the three.

All three races include a Libertarian candidate.

09.18.14

Perry Is Out Of Touch On His Transportation Legacy

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Cronyism, Transportation at 11:57 am by wcnews

Rick Perry appears completely out of touch with the transportation situation in Texas, and how bad he screwed it up, (Remember the Trans-Texas Corridor?), Perry Touts Legacy to Toll Road Group.

Calling Texas “the mecca of innovation on transportation infrastructure,” Gov. Rick Perry touted the state’s approach to expanding roads without raising taxes in Tuesday morning remarks to the toll road industry.

Perry was the keynote speaker at the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) annual conference, held this year in Austin.

“Thank you for making a difference in people’s lives,” Perry said to more than 400 conference attendees, most of whom were from outside of Texas. “What you do in your communities, and in transportation infrastructure, is how we will really turn this economy around in this country.”

In his speech, Perry touted his work in transportation during his 13-year tenure as governor, particularly his backing of a statewide proliferation of toll roads and his use of other financing tools to avoid raising taxes.

“We realized early on that pay-as-you-go wasn’t going to help us meet all of the requirements that we had as a state,” Perry said. “So we explored new ways of financing, including toll roads, but also ways in which we structure our budget and take advantage of historically low interest rates, all to ensure that money flows to these road construction projects and to maintenance.”

Spoken like someone who’s been chauffeured around Austin for the last 13 years.

He is right about one thing. The way we used to fund roads in Texas was chucked and replaced with a helter-skelter system of toll roads and cronyism. That most Texans see them as a tax increase anyway.

Most people in Texas hate the toll road schemes Perry and the GOP have instituted.  There are a litany of problems associated with toll roads in Texas.  They’re overpriced, poorly designed, needing a bailout, not easing congestion, and are full of billing snafu’s, to name a few.

It’s pretty easy to see now that if it wasn’t for the neglect of the last 20 years, just raising the gas tax and indexing it with inflation, would have been the best solution.

The upcoming proposition is a

It’s understandable that no one wants to pay more taxes.  But under the old system at least the tax money went to build roads.  Now the money is diverted to pay for budget shortfalls, or more likely goes to  corporate cronies of Texas politicians like Perry, to build the toll roads that go bankrupt and need a taxpayer bailout anyway.  I don’t know, maybe some people think that’s a better system?

Whichever you prefer it’s pretty obvious to most every Texan that Perry’s transportation legacy is not what he thinks it is.  We’re all still stuck in traffic over the ideological neglect we’ve been subjected to over the last 13 years.

Further Reading:

A few snippets from Tuesday’s Senate Tranportation Committee hearing in Austin on Tuesday, Texas lawmakers look for new ways to fund highways. This from the sole Texas Republican who is dealing with reality.

Frustration with the mounting debt — a significant portion of Texas’ total debt — boiled over in a Texas Senate committee hearing Tuesday morning to pave a way forward.

“We have basically run this state with debt on a credit card, and now we’ve maxed out the credit card,” said state Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler). “All this talk of no new revenue the last ten years, and what have we done? We’ve mortgaged the future of this state. When you sell bonds it’s a tax on a future generation because we didn’t have the courage to do the right thing.”

“Now we’re in a mess because we’ve maxed out the credit card, and we’re going to sit here another six months talking about the need and never figure out a way to pay for it,” Eltife continued. “We’ve got to put this state back on a pay-as-you-go plan for all of state government. That’s a true balanced budget, not using debt every session to balance our books.”

And Leticia Van de Putte reminds us about the diversions.

Many lawmakers have also have voiced frustration over money collected from dedicated fees which has gone unspent. After sitting in on Tuesday morning’s hearing, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) told KVUE the practice must stop. “I think what Texans ought to be absolutely appalled at is the number of dedicated fees and taxes that are supposed to go to highways and to building of roads, when in fact they’re being diverted to certify the budget.”

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