10.30.09

PEC Board Holds Special Meeting; Votes to Spend $300,000 To Make Members Feel Like Members – Updated

Posted in Central Texas, Commentary at 7:13 pm by PECmember

A special meeting of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative was held on Friday, October 30, 2009 to vote on an amendment to the distribution of capital credits to members. The amendment presented was to distribute all capital credits of $1.01 or more via live check rather than as a credit on the member’s November bill.

Please continue reading to find out how much that $1.01 check is going to cost PEC members, and why some members think the board may have violated the open meetings act. Read the rest of this entry �

Health reform round up

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, Health Care, Insurance Reform, The Budget at 12:11 pm by wcnews

The US House health care proposal got a good review from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), CBO Says House Health Care Bill Is Deficit Reducer In Near And Long Term.

The CBO has weighed in with a preliminary cost estimate of the House’s health care bill–and there are almost certainly some very happy people in House leadership.

At $894 billion, the bill’s 10 year cost comes in a hair under President Obama’s $900 billion red line. But, more politically and substantively important, the bill is projected to reduce the deficit in both the first 10 years and the second 10 years after enactment, just as Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told me earlier today.

Of course two Senators who caucus with the Democrats and whose wives make A LOT of money from health insurance corporations are playing coy about whether they’ll vote for health reform that includes a public option. Evan Bayh: Hypocrisy on the Public Option.

Evan Bayh, the junior senator from Indiana, is in the middle of a heated debate in the Senate on whether a public option should be included as part of President Obama’s health care reforms. An organizer of a group of so-called Senate Blue Dog Democrats, to date, Bayh’s been a staunch opponent of any changes to the status quo in this debate.

He’s worried aloud that any public option would be a nod to socialism and counter to his principles as a fiscal conservative. When pressed on the issue, he’s said he’s simply a vessel reflecting the views of his Indiana constituents.

Yet Bayh, who until very late in the campaign last year was considered a top contender to be Obama’s vice president, is at best naive and disingenuous, and at worst supremely hypocritical in pushing his views as those of his voters.

His wife, Susan Bayh, sits on the board of WellPoint in her hometown of Indianapolis. Over the last six years, Susan Bayh has received at least $2 million in compensation from WellPoint alone for serving on its board.

Why does Joe Lieberman oppose healthcare reform? Ask his wife. It looks like Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin is making sure Lieberman knows what’s on the line, Harkin: Lieberman Has Something to Lose.

“[Lieberman] still wants to be a part of the Democratic Party although he is a registered independent. He wants to caucus with us and, of course, he enjoys his chairmanship of the [Homeland Security] committee because of the indulgence of the Democratic Caucus. So, I’m sure all of those things will cross his mind before the final vote.”

Joe will have to decide if he’s rather kill heatlh care reform or keep being chair of a committee. Life is full of choices.

In Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln is non-committal on a public option even though her political survival depends on it. The interesting thing is that in all of these states, like the country overall, the public option enjoys majority support. That’s why their insurance corporation ties and contributions loom so large.

The House has released Top 14 Provisions That Will Take Effect Immediately [.pdf] when the plan is passed.

DMN says, Hank “Gilbert has… guts”

Posted in 2010 Primary, Commentary, Election 2010, Good Stuff, Privatization, Road Issues, Transportation at 10:06 am by wcnews

What’s been missing from Texas politics, on the Democratic side,  for many years, is a candidate that is not afraid to say what must be done.  Someone who will show that there is a difference between Democrats and Republicans, and how electing good Democrats will benefit all Texans.  It looks like we’ve finally got the candidate we’ve been missing.

The current contenders for the Democratic nomination for governor of Texas provides a great case in point.  Yesterday Hank Gilbert released his reality based  transportation plan that will make up for the neglect of the last 20 or so year, and fund transportation in Texas for years to come.  His Democratic opponent gave what could best be described as a wishy-washy GOP-lite response, Asking Tom Schieffer’s transportation positions …

Is Tom Schieffer open to a tax increase to build roads?

UPDATE: Just now talked to Clay Robison of Schieffer’s campaign, who’s sending me an updated statement reflecting the candidate’s position on a tax increase. Here it is:

An 8 cents increase in the gas tax hits middle and lower income families the hardest. It also increases pressure on the small, independent businesses we need to create jobs here in Texas.

For that reason, a gas tax increase should be the last resort, not the first resort when it comes to funding our transportation needs. The legislature and the next governor should first look for waste and inefficiencies in the system before they start talking about an increase in the gas tax.

So I ask, if not taxes, if not tolls, then what? I don’t buy squeezing waste out of the system. You don’t find billions and billions that way.

Yes, that’s a very good question Tom, how?  Has Tom Schieffer been out of the country for a while? Oh, why yes he has. He must have missed all of the toll/TTC wrangling over the last 8 years, and isn’t aware that we are down to last resorts.  Come on Tom, you can do better.

On the other hand here’s what the DMN had to say about Hank’s plan, Hank Gilbert has transportation specifics:

At least Gilbert has the guts to own up to the cost of building and maintaining a first-class transportation system. Tom Schieffer came out critical of an 8-cent increase today but neglected to make clear that he was responding to his Democratic rival. We have yet to see a fleshed-out Schieffer plan, however.

Gilbert’s hostility to toll roads makes sense only if a higher gas tax would raise enough money to build the projects we need. Without lots of new money, this metro area can’t keep up without tolls.

The giant LBJ rebuild and North Tarrant Express project, for example, could never go forward without outside money and tolls, under the current revenue picture.

If a governor could squeeze that kind of tax money out of the Legislature, he or she would be a miracle worker. And it might take a miracle for a person to get elected while calling for a tax increase. Lots of political leaders thinks it’s needed, but few of them will admit it publicly.

When contrasting Hank’s “gutsy” statement with Schieffer’s gutless one it’s not hard to see who will stand up for working Texans when it’s needed. This is just one issue but it’s clear, from the way both candidates are handling it, that one is ready to lead and the other will get to be governor if others work hard.

Hank is the only candidate that has come up with a plan that will fix our state’s transportation infrastructure funding problems. Yes, if we want good roads we – meaning all Texans – will have to pay for them. We have a choice now. We can continue to elect politicians that tell us what we want to hear, that we can have roads without paying for them, or we can elect Hank.

10.29.09

Texas needs leadership on transportation, Hank is stepping up

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, Good Stuff, Privatization, Road Issues, Transportation at 3:00 pm by wcnews

The DMN’s Transpiration blog has been monitoring today’s Texas Transportation Commission in Fort Worth. And, of course, funding, or the lack thereof, as been a major issue. TxDOT: Trans Texas Corridor dead but I-35 still needs massive help.

[Tim Brown, director of the I-35 advisory committee] said that following the transportation department’s decision last month to adopt a no-build alternative for the I-35 portion of the Trans Texas Corridor plan, his committee has established local panels of volunteers to study local needs along the corridor. He hopes that by August, the results of those segment advisory committees’ work will be presented to TxDOT, which will evaluate how to move forward. The options are not much different than they were back when Perry proposed the TTC: build a new highway parallel to I-35, or widen or double-deck (in places) the existing interstate.

Every option will be expensive.

Brown said the demise of the highly controversial Trans Texas Corridor has taught his committee two important lessons: “We need to pay more attention to the folks on the ground, number one, and number two, the complexities of trying to figure out what do with a major transportation corridor are such that simple solutions just don’t suffice. We’re recommending we go back and do something a little bit different this time.”

Yes, that’s correct. Since our state leadership has neglected transportation funding for almost 20 years – the last time the gas tax was raised was 1992 – it’s going to be expensive, cost a bunch, to now to make up the difference.  There is a “simple” solution, but there are no easy answers.  Meaning all we have to do is go back to the way we used to pay for highways in Texas.

We also learn today from just how far we are behind, TxDOT: State will be able to afford $6 billion less in construction over next 10 years.

Looking ahead 10 years, TxDOT officials said that the agency has had to revise its cash-flow projections significantly from just 18 months ago. Revenue will be down about $4 billion, through 2019 compared to estimates made in April, 2008.

That will translate to about $6 billion less in cash available to pay contractors for design and construction work, said James Bass, chief financial officer at the Texas Department of Transportation.

At least one commissioner, Ned Holmes of Houston, said even those numbers may be optimistic. Revenue from the state and federal gas taxes, he said, will likely go down — rather go slightly up, as TxDOT is projecting — as drivers use increasingly fuel-efficient cars.

Bass said the department assumes those revenues will go up about half a percent in 2010, and 1 percent per year for the rest of the next decade.

Both Holmes and Bass agreed the 10-year forecasts of revenue are educated guesses.

Isn’t calling a 10-year revenue forecast and educated guess redundant? Anyway, we all know the way out of this mess. And it looks like we finally have a candidate for governor that willing to lead on the issue, Gilbert Proposes Sweeping Reforms, Return To Pay-Go For Transportation Infrastructure. He’s proposed a new plan called, “Getting Texas Moving Again“.

Many of you know who I am and are aware of my candidacy because of my involvement in killing the Trans Texas Corridor and working to put an end to eminent domain abuses in Texas.

While there is far more to my candidacy for governor than just my transportation policy, I am particularly excited and proud to unveil this piece of my vision for Texas. It represents many years of hard work and research and contains not just my ideas, but those shared with me by thousands of Texans over the years as I traveled across the state opposing the Trans Texas Corridor.

You’ve probably heard people use the phrase about the “ox in the ditch” when it comes to something that is stuck or not going anywhere. That’s the problem with our transportation policy in Texas: Governor Perry’s ox, the Trans Texas Corridor, got stuck in a ditch. Instead of coming up with new and better transportation policy when this happened, Governor Perry and his administration just stayed on the side of the road and let our transportation needs pass right on by.

Every time I see TxDOT’s new slogan, “Keep Texas Moving,” I laugh a little, because our transportation policy and development in this state is doing anything but moving. When I’m governor, that will change. That is why I’ve titled this plan, “Getting Texas Moving Again.” It is time to move Texas transportation policy and construction in the right direction—toward new ideas and a brighter future. When I’m governor, that will happen.

It includes this:

Generating funding for road construction and improvement is key to getting Texas moving again.
Indexing The Motor Fuels Tax.

Hank proposes a one time increase in the gas tax of 8 cents and implementing automatic increases in the gas tax annually from 2012 forward based on increases in the Highway Cost Index (HCI), with a four percent cap on any annual increase. Should the HCI increase by more than 4% in any year, the balance would carry forward to the next year and be added to any increase for that year. In years where there is a zero or negative increase in the HCI, revenue generated from carryovers would go toward reducing TxDOT’s existing debt. This is the only way we can build out the infrastructure Texas desperately needs and restore fiscal responsibility to transportation funding without incurring massive new debts that will burden this state for decades to come.

Hank will require TxDOT to adhere to its funding formulas so each TxDOT district receives the appropriate amount of funding.

That’s the fairest way to make up that funding gap and making Texas’ infrastructure the best in the nation again.  Our current governor has wasted almost 10 years on this issue.  The neglect has gone on far too long. Texas’ leaders the past 20 years or so have tried to use gimmicks and corporate giveaways to attempt to pay for highways in this state. It’s about time we had a leader that will stand up, take responsibility, and say what must be done to fix this important problem.

A couple of items

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, Health Care, Taxes, Williamson County at 10:28 am by wcnews

Almost 3,500 had voted early [.pdf] as of Tuesday.

Here’s the list of Sunset review during the 2010 – 2011 biennium, 28 in all. Find the complete review schedule here.

We’ve had a massive redistribution of wealth over the last 50 years – from working Americans to the wealthy and super wealthy.  Check out this graph from EPI, Money to spare for health care.

snapshot_20091028_full
(click here to enlarge).

Can a Democrat still support Hutchison after this? If You Don’t Vote For Kay, Dick Cheney Will Shoot You In The Face.

The Dallas Observer asks the question, Rick Perry: Crazy or Crazy Like a Fox? Guess Which We Pick.

[Dallas Morning News editorialist William McKenzie] suggests three possible motives for Perry’s actions: He’s following his principles; he’s following a political strategy that marries no-holds-barred leadership with conservative values; or he’s just out of touch.

Let’s add a fourth possibility to that list: Perry is a cuckoo bird. Of course, that’s just Buzz spitballing. We’re just an ol’ softy liberal sort who kinda would like to know whether the state of Texas is executing innocents and who was appalled by Perry’s actions in the Corsicana case.

But it would be unfair to draw the conclusion that the governor is a bloodthirsty nut without doing some investigating, So, adopting the standards of Fox News, we posed our question to the most fair and balanced expert we could think of: Vince Leibowitz, chairman of the Texas Progressive Alliance and communications director for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Hank Gilbert.

“I think the crazy aspect of his campaign plays to…the far right wing of his party,” Leibowitz says. Perry’s strongman tactics in the Corsicana case might serve him well in locking up the wingnut vote in his primary battle against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. If he wins the primary, however, he’s going to have a hard time repositioning himself toward the center to appeal to voters who haven’t sipped “Perry-Aid…his own kind of Kool-Aid,” Leibowitz says.

“Trying to turn off the right-wing switch and returning to moderate is just going to be impossible,” he says.

The crazy genie is out of the bottle.

Rep. Maldonado hosts transportation forum in Hutto

Posted in HD-52, Hutto, Road Issues, Transportation, Williamson County at 9:55 am by wcnews

2009.10.27.Hutto.TranspoForum-10
Planning the Road For Our Transportation Needs

State Representative Diana Maldonado (HD-52) hosted a Community Forum to discuss current transportation issues facing our state and local communities. Maldonado was joined by professionals from the state, regional and local government who oversee the planning and development of transportation infrastructure.

“Williamson County is one of the fastest growing areas in our state making our plans to develop

safe roads, sidewalks and bike paths critical to our regions continued success,” Rep. Maldonado said. “At a time in which there is limited funding for transportation projects, our local municipalities are faced with difficult decisions to continue providing necessary roadways for our school, businesses and communities.”

Participants in the panel discussion were: Carlos Lopez, TxDOT District Engineer; Maureen McCoy, Assistant Director of the Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO); Bob Daigh, Infrastructure Director for Williamson County; and Ed Broussard, City Manager of Hutto.

With her seat on CAMPO, Rep. Maldonado worked to secure $10 million in state funding for the FM 1460 expansion project in Williamson County. The funding will expand FM 1460 between Old Settlers Boulevard (FM 3405) and University Boulevard in Round Rock from two lanes to 4 lanes with a yellow center turn lane and shoulders.

This was the third in a series of Community Forums Maldonado will be to discuss issues of importance facing communities and residents throughout House District 52.

Maldonado is serving her first term in the Texas House of Representatives and represents House District 52 which encompasses a portion of Williamson County, including Round Rock, Taylor, Hutto, Thrall, Coupland and part of Georgetown and Austin.

Rep. Maldonado will also be speaking next week at Don’t Stop Believing Tour Celebrates 90th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment.   Project 19 Foundation Launches Nationwide Tour at Texas State Capitol.

Project 19 Foundation launches a nineteen-city nationwide tour called the Don’t Stop Believing Tour, celebrating the 90-Year Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The Tour will begin at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas November 3, 2009 at 10 AM.

[...]

Event Details for November 3, 2009

Location: Texas State Capitol Building, South Steps
Time: 10 AM
Speakers: State Representative Diana Maldonado, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, Project 19 and Project 19 Foundation Co-Founders, Lisa Copeland and Robin Ford.

Check out the Project 19 Foundation.

The Project 19 Foundation is a nonpartisan, issue-neutral, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that empowers women to advance into leadership roles through public awareness initiatives, and by funding education courses, training seminars and scholarship programs.

The Project 19 Foundation ensures that every woman has the opportunity and skills to advance into leadership roles throughout the public, private and non-profit sectors- we will not stop until every sector has balanced representation.

The Foundation is supported by corporate sponsorship, individual donations and alumnae support from Project 19 course graduates.

10.28.09

The public option in Texas

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:42 pm by wcnews

Great  column by in today’s FWST, Healthcare reform good for Texas. Here’s a few excerpts.

The five largest carriers in Texas control just more than two-thirds of the business, according to a 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office. Only one state, Wisconsin, had a less concentrated marketplace.

What Texas needs is lower prices, not more players. Coverage has to become more affordable, so more Texans can get into the system. Presumably, a public plan would offer better rates, because it wouldn’t have to make a profit and pay dividends to shareholders.

In effect, it could keep the market honest, if it provides solid care at a lower cost.

This idea is an anathema to many in Texas, where faith in the free market trumps all. Lots of competition means lots of choice and lots of benefits for consumers — at least that’s the theory.

Except that in health insurance, the results have often been higher prices and more cherry-picking of the best customers.

“We have lots of choices, but they aren’t affordable choices,” said Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin research group that supports reform. “Having a lot of competitors isn’t sufficient in itself.”

For many years, health insurance premiums in Texas were higher than the national average, even though Texas is a low-cost state by many measures. Last year, the average premium for family coverage nationwide crept above the Texas average for the first time since 2001.

But a recent survey on healthcare costs found that Dallas-Fort Worth ranked second only to Boston among the most expensive metro areas. Texas uses a light hand on the regulatory front, consistent with its free-market ideology. While mandates for health coverage are solid, companies are generally free to set rates without oversight by regulators.

[...]
It’s obvious why Texas would benefit from healthcare reform: 1 in 4 residents is uninsured, a higher share than any state, and changes made in Washington will extend coverage to millions here.

The gains from a public option, the short name for a government-sponsored health plan, are less cut-and-dried. But they could be significant, because more Texans buy insurance on their own — and they’re more likely to be charged an outrageous premium.

[...]

Unfortunately, a lot of people in Texas don’t get insurance from large employers or from employers at all. Just under 49 percent of Texans have employer-sponsored insurance, compared with an average of 56 percent for the nation (and 88.5 percent in Hawaii).

It’s part of this group that stands to benefit from a public option. The government plan would be added to a health insurance exchange that includes private carriers and offers several tiers of coverage. The public option would be offered to individuals, as well as employees of small companies whose plans were too expensive or limited in coverage.

Most participants in a company-sponsored plan wouldn’t be eligible for the public option. Most people say they’re satisfied with their current insurance, and employers have enough clout to get good deals.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 30 million people would participate in the healthcare exchange, with about 12 million choosing the public plan. That compares with about 170 million Americans who have health insurance through their employers, which is why Obama has said the public option should not be a deal-breaker.

All this may prove to be a moot point. The public option wasn’t included in the Senate Finance Committee bill but was reintroduced this week with a compromise that lets states “opt out” of the option.

It’s not clear how states would do that and whether the entire Legislature would have a say. But Gov. Rick Perry has been hostile toward Washington initiatives, and his office was skeptical of the latest wrinkle. “The bottom line is a massive government takeover of healthcare is not the solution,” Katherine Cesinger, deputy press secretary, said in an e-mail statement.

Like it or not, reform is coming, and Texas stands to be one of the big winners. For people looking to the health insurance exchange — and there will be a lot of them in Texas — the public option could make it even better.

To see how concentrated the insurance market is in Texas check out this report from HCAN [.pdf] earlier this year. The “opt-out” debate will be bad for the GOP in Texas, How would the public option “opt-out” play out in Texas? Making GOP members in the lege go on the record, as to whether or not thay wil take away health insurance from working Texans, is a vote they won’t want to have.

10.27.09

City of Corsicana questions whether Forensic Science Commission can investigate the Willingham case

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Criminal Justice at 10:51 pm by wcnews

Via the Corsicana Daily Sun, Texas Forensic Science Commission questioned, City challenges commission’s look at arson case.

The City of Corsicana is questioning the Texas Forensic Science Commission’s ability to look at the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, since it happened 14 years before the commission was created.

The law allows the panel to examine cases still pending, or people in prison as of Sept. 1, 2005, but Willingham was tried in 1992, and executed in February 2004.

In creating the Commission, the law is meant to affect active cases of injustice, argues Terry Jacobson, Corsicana city attorney in a Oct. 7 letter to the Commission.

The evidence was gathered and entered into evidence 14 years before the bill became law, Jacobson points out. “The city is cooperating with the Forensic Science Commission,” Jacobson said, adding that the city would like to see the commission address the jurisdiction question.

The newly appointed head of the commission, John Bradley, Williamson County district attorney, declined to comment on whether or not his commission has the authority to look into the case.

[...]

Chairman of the senate committee, John Whitmire, Houston Democrat, said he intends to ask Bradley if the Commission has enough money, and whether it intends to continue with the Willingham inquiry, Whitmire said.

And if not, then why not.

It’s likely this will be a point of contention on November 10th. But Whitmire doesn’t seem to think it’s an issue.

The original intent was not to look at arson, but it left some freedom to examine older cases and look for errors in the science, he said.

“I don’t think the Forensics Commission is an Innocence Commission, it’s not to retry the Willingham case. I didn’t have that in mind — to review and retry old cases,” Whitmire explained. “We’ve got appellate courts to do that.”

However, Whitmire said he doesn’t see the harm in hearing what the experts have to say.

“No one should be afraid of the facts,” he said. “The facts will never change. To say they don’t have the jurisdiction, so what? I’m not sure that was the concept we had in mind, to determine guilt or innocence of Willingham. That’s not my job or the Commission’s job. They’re supposed to find the best forensics practices and use that to go forward.”

The question is, is this enough to give Bradley enough room to wiggle out of continuing the investigation into the Willingham case?

[UPDATE]:  More on this from the Star Telegram, Corsicana questions state commission’s jurisdiction in 1991 arson case.

And the HChron is suing Perry over clemency report.

The Houston Chronicle and Hearst Newspapers LLC are suing Gov. Rick Perry in an effort to force the release of a clemency report Perry received before denying a stay of execution to Cameron Todd Willingham.

The report is a summary and status of the case against Willingham that was given to Perry at 11:30 a.m. on the day of Willingham’s 2004 execution in the fire deaths of his three daughters. Anti-death penalty advocates say modern fire forensics show the blaze cannot be proven as arson.

Perry’s office has refused to release the report, claiming it is a privileged document. The clemency document was used by Perry in the process of deciding whether to give Willingham a 30-day stay of execution.

Short takes on big issues

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Criminal Justice, Media, Road Issues, Transportation at 9:29 pm by wcnews

Kuff has the latest on the Willingham/Forensic Sciences Commission saga, The case against Willingham.

Most of the pushback against the criticism of the Cameron Todd Willingham investigation and conviction has so far been of the form of “He was a bad guy!” and “We did too use science to prove arson!”, neither of which has been the least bit convincing. The DMN has a story that does a much better job of creating doubt about any claims of innocence. Basically, Willingham made a lot of inconsistent statements over time, the Beyler report never concluded that the fire was not arson, just that arson could not be proven, and some media reports of one juror’s doubts about her guilty vote were overblown. It does not change the nature of the problem with his case, which is that the forensic techniques used to convict Willingham were bunk, and that many other people have been convicted on similar “evidence”, but it was still a bit bracing to read. I know I for one had held some incorrect beliefs about the case based on previous reporting, and it was good to get set straight on a few points.

[...]

At the end of the day, if the investigation of the Willingham fire had been done correctly, there likely never would have been charges filed. The evidence does not support a conclusion of arson. You can’t be certain what a DA might do, but if the one in this case had proceeded he might well have lost. We almost certainly would not be where we are right now had the fire marshal at the time done the right thing. That’s what it’s all about.

More on the politics of Perry’s commissioner changes, Exit Notices for Some, But Not All. And here’s the link to Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing – when Sen. Whitmire brings Williamson County DA John Bradley before his committee – on November 10th.  Also two good editorial here and here.

Tolls do have a place as Atrios says, but a gas tax can do the same thing easier:

There are two reasons to toll roads. One is toll as user fee, which can be just taken care of with a gas tax except for roads that for whatever reason we’ve deemed special. The other is as a way of reducing congestion, and the point here is that there’s a congestion externality and you can turn “too much time wasted in traffic” into “money for other stuff” and make everyone better off.

Anyone who is wondering why not raise the gas tax? Well…..

Why is this happening? Mostly because we need new roads and politicians are scared to raise the gasoline tax to pay for them. It’s pretty much that simple.

It’s also unfortunate, because increasing the gasoline tax is a smarter alternative. It would be more efficient, because the collection apparatus is in place and there’d be no need to pay for new E-ZPass equipment, tollbooths or machines to photograph license plates. It would spread the burden more equitably and avoid putting some roads and express lanes off-limits to the less-affluent.

But tolls are an acceptable alternative, given that our political class lacks the vision and leadership needed to persuade the public to accept a tax increase. Moreover, some kind of large-scale tolling might be unavoidable in the long run, because the gasoline tax will gradually generate less revenue as people switch to hybrids and electric cars. [Emphasis added].

There’s hundreds of billions of dollars in savings in cutting wastes in our current health care system, The U.S. healthcare system wastes between $600 billion and $850 billion annually.

Anyone who is still operating under the delusion that Fox News is news or fair and balanced just read this, 30 reasons why Fox News is not legit. It’s devastating!

More on the Texas GOP’s new leader, Small-Tent Politics: New Texas GOP Chair Tacks Right. Way Right.

The upshot: Don’t expect the Texas GOP to be moving in an “expansive” direction any time soon. Democrats should be dancing a collective gig. Republicans with any licks of sense should be dumbfounded.

Dumbfounded is right.

Rep. Maldonado To Host Transportation Community Forum Tonight

Posted in HD-52, Transportation, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 3:11 pm by wcnews

State Representative Diana Maldonado (HD-52) will host a Transportation Community Forum in Hutto on Tuesday October 27th, to discuss current transportation issues facing House District 52, as well as local and regional plans for the area.

The Community Forum is open to the public and will consist of a panel discussion involving experts from the Texas Department of Transportation, Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), Williamson County and the City of Hutto.

“Creating and maintaining safe and accessible roadways is critical to all aspects of our communities from schools and businesses to farmers and hospitals,” Maldonado said. “The enormous growth in Williamson County is causing many cities to develop long term strategic plans for the increased number of cars on our roads. Confronting this issue is one of the top issues facing Central Texas. Local municipalities are continually working with CAMPO and TxDOT to plan and chart future roadway construction, and I believe this forum will be an opportunity for the public to get an inside look at local plans to move forward.”

  • What: Community Forum on Transportation
  • When: Tuesday, October 27th at 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Hutto ISD Administration Building, 200 College Street, Hutto

Representative Maldonado is hosting a series of Community Forums on issues of importance facing communities and residents throughout House District 52.

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