State Media Coming Around On Highway Neglect

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Around The State at 10:59 am by wcnews

We here at EOW hate to say, “I told you so”, well not really. This article, Toll road proponents: Motorists can — and should — pay more, in the SAEN by Jaime Castillo is very good and takes apart the recent Dye audit that TxDOT paid for. Anyone who pays attention already knows most of this but it’s good to see it in the newspaper. Here’s the money quote:

In the last 16 years, the state’s population — and construction costs — have grown exponentially. Yet, the gas tax — the primary source of highway funding — has been frozen since 1991.

And not only has it remained static in an ever-changing world, state lawmakers can’t keep their hands off of it either.

Continuing its long-running budgetary shell game, the Legislature’s latest two-year budget will see one-tenth, or $1.6 billion, of the highway fund diverted from building and maintaining roads.

With fiscal constraint apparently off the table, raising the gas tax must be looked at seriously. While difficult with gasoline prices hovering around $3 a gallon, it could be done if the entire state leadership — the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker — supported the change.

That way, lawmakers, who already quietly concede that the gas tax is too low, could stick their necks out and not fear being singled out as the pigeons that supported higher taxes.

The alternative is to unnecessarily gouge those who will use toll roads. If the recommendations by Dye Management Group are the guide, toll riders will soon have the privilege of paying the highest tolls possible and paying the 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax.

There’s still one problem with what he says. In a vacuum, yes if the state leadership would support raising the gas tax it would happen. But with our state’s current leadership, if you want to call it that, it’s NEVER going to happen. Which means we need new state leaders to stop this tremendous tax increases - yes tolls are taxes - that will be levied on mostly urban and suburban drivers.

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