Filching - More Republican Incompetence

Posted in Privatization, Had Enough Yet?, Road Issues, Around The State at 1:38 pm by wcnews

The only thing really left to discuss is whether Republicans really are this bad at governing or if it’s on purpose. Is it just their plan to make government look incompetent/bad so they can drown it in the bathtub. In the long run it really doesn’t matter because the result is the same.

Check out this article in by the SAEN’s Patrick Driscoll to see what I’m talking about, Highway shortfall is worsening. (Emphasis mine).

State lawmakers did plenty of bellyaching about toll roads in the spring legislative session, yet curiously were bent on hamstringing transportation funding more than ever.

House members torched an effort to index the gas tax to inflation. The tax has been frozen since 1991 and is now losing ground to construction costs in annual double digits.

They also eagerly offered motorists a summer gas-tax holiday, which would have cost the state up to $700 million, though Senate members quietly let that flash of generosity die.

Then, after the session, news trickled out that lawmakers filched another $243 million from the State Highway Fund to plug budget holes, despite bold talk about stemming such bleeding of the fund and a $14 billion state surplus to play with.

In all, a tenth of the highway fund, $1.6 billion, will be diverted from building and maintaining roads over the next two fiscal years, up 15 percent from this biennium. That doesn’t include a fourth of the gas-tax funds that go to schools.

Toll-road critics say the diverted money is just one way state leaders have created a self-fulfilling funding crisis, which is hyped to justify tolling.

All filching aside the last paragraph is pretty much what our transportation debate in this state has become. A state created crisis. Are the highways and byways of our state an boon to the economic development of the entire state, as the Governor and his pro-TTC minions are fond or saying, or aren’t they? If they are then then the cheapest, fairest, and easiest way to fund them is by raising and indexing the gas tax. (One-fourth goes to schools, it would seem that could go to lower property taxes). If they are we shouldn’t be just taxing - with tolls, and tolls are taxes - all the major metropolitan areas of the state. The whole state should participate in funding this economic development, if they’re going to reap the benefit. It seems the reason that the cheapest and fairest way to fund roads won’t be done for exactly that reason. If Republicans can’t kick-back “profit” to those that finance their campaigns then there isn’t any economic development, if you know what I mean.

Can’t leave Rep. Mike Krusee out of this discussion. In this article he insults his legislative brethren in that condescending, elitist tone that his constituents are so used to hearing:

But lawmakers in the thick of a labyrinth of transportation bills last session put it this way:

“The Legislature as a whole is just not a very sophisticated animal,” said House Transportation Committee Chairman Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock.

Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, agreed.

“There’s still a severe lack of understanding as to how critical the transportation shortfall in Texas has become,” he said.

Even Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, a hero of the toll moratorium bill, joined the House stampede to thwart indexing the gas tax to consumer inflation. The vote was 122-19 to stifle the measure, which Krusee had tried to tack on a bill.

The only reason Rep. Krusee even put that bill up is because he knew it had no chance of passing. Otherwise it never would have gotten through his committee. We can’t expect a political party that thinks government is the problem to use government to fix problems. All they want to do is outsource our infrastructure, health care, etc., to corporations and that usually causes more problems than it fixes.

Make no mistake the transportation disaster confronting our state is wholly owned by the Republicans. It will take a fundamental shift of the political landscape to change this. Without political leaders willing to do what needs to be done, raise and index the gas tax, this will not change.

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