05.09.13

There will be no new money for transportation

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, The Lege, Transportation at 10:22 pm by wcnews

This is a very interesting statement from Rep. Drew Darby. He’s explaining why he pulled his bill down, even though he thought it would pass.

Gov. Rick Perry, conservative groups and tea party-backed House Republicans forced House leaders Thursday to pull down a bill that would have increased car registration fees to help build more roads.

Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, said a vote count showed a compromise version of his bill probably could squeak through in the House.

However, he said, “I didn’t move forward because of the prospects of cutting the members up on a vote [on a bill] that may not become law.

Let’s put aside scorecards for now. But we have a legislator who thought his bill would pass this stage of the process, but doesn’t want to continue to fight for its passage. Isn’t that what legislating is all about? Get your bill through one stage, and then start fighting for it at the next stage. Is this where The Lege is now? No legislation can move forward, no votes can be taken unless they’re safe, and the legislation is guaranteed to pass.

The reason it’s this way is that too many, GOP legislators in particular, don’t want to get on the wrong side of the post-session scorecards of groups like Empower Texans.  Or face the wrath of TPPF, and Perry and the wing nuts.

The truly sad part is that Texas really needs to spend money on transportation infrastructure.

Asked if House leaders are finished with transportation funding this session, Darby said they’ve completed consideration of new sources of highway money.

“This is the last bill coming out of the House to add transportation infrastructure funding,” he said.

Darby said that’s a shame because Texas has virtually no money for launching new road projects. He said the state has borrowed almost all that it can borrow to build highways. It’s at risk of choking off economic and population growth. [Emphasis added]

The state hasn’t generally raised vehicle registration fees since 1985, nor the gasoline tax since 1991, he noted. And families bear a $1,500 “hidden tax” each year in car repairs and lost productivity from being stuck on bad roads and in traffic jams, Darby said.

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, said the bill was a test of seriousness about tackling big problems.

“If we really want to govern, at some point you can’t live on 1991 revenue streams at 2013 prices,” Aycock said.

Darby replied, “A dollar in 1991 is worth 62 cents today.”

But freshman Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, said he prefers looking at the motor vehicle sales tax as a way to fund more roads. Frank suggested he would vote against Darby’s bill, as did Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana.

It’s hard to feel sorry for Darby and the GOP. They’ve let the right wing take over their party and now we are all suffering, themselves included. And now that it’s obvious to most people that we need to spend money we do have, we can’t even do that.

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