The AusChron And Tolls

Posted in Central Texas, Commentary, HD-52, Privatization, Road Issues at 11:51 pm by wcnews

The AusChron has not taken a side regarding the upcoming CAMPO vote on more toll roads in the Austin/Central Texas area. They seem to have washed their hands of the whole tool road issue. They see anyone opposing tolls as a cynic who thinks all politicians are on the take. They see the pro-tolling politicians as afraid to ask citizens to pay for their infrastructure the conventional way — through taxation. Full disclosure: EOW is still a little put out with them for their non-endorsement in HD-52 in 2006. That non-endorsement was, in essence, an endorsement of Mike Krusee in 2006.

This week’s article, CAMPO Poised to Pass Toll Plan – Despite Uneasiness, is more of the same. The story captures thoughts from the 5 possible “no votes” on the CAMPO board. They stake no position regarding what they think should happen. EOW had hoped that Austin’s alt-weekly would have had some editorial comment on the upcoming CAMPO vote. It would be interesting to know their thoughts on the go-along-with-the-Chamber-of-Commerce mentality of the “progressive” Austin Senator Kirk Watson. He has demonstrated a complete lack of leadership on this issue through his inability to push for a fairer and economically sensible way to pay for transportation infrastructure in Central Texas, and Texas as a whole.

One of EOW’s fears regarding the upcoming CAMPO vote is that this issue may be thrown into the Democrat’s lap in Central Texas. With Rep. Mike Krusee fading into oblivion on this issue and the toll torch being passed to Democratic Senator Kirk Watson, the Democrats may get saddled with much more of the blame in the future for the “toll everything” concept.

The opening paragraph of this 2006 column from Austin Chronicle publisher Louis Black, Texans need to hear the truth about taxes and tolls raods gives some insight into what may be driving their coverage of this issue.

The current toll-road wars are profoundly depressing in so many ways. Not only have they brought out the worst in so many, but even the best aspect – citizen involvement – is tainted because, although this state has passed so many egregious, unconscionable laws, this is among the least of issues.

They see it as depressing and a minor issue. That being said there is some great analysis in the rest of the article.

Americans don’t want to pay for the government that exists. Texans want to pay even less, and they certainly have no interest in paying for the quality of government they demand. Texans are overtaxed. This is because we are one of 11 states without an income tax. Revenue is generated by a range of taxes – particularly property, gas, and sales taxes. These are regressive taxes – so called because a disproportionate share of the tax burden falls on those on the lower end of the income scale.


Now I’m not being disingenuous; the road lobby supports toll roads. This is because they don’t think there is any other way to get Texans to pay for them. They know Texans don’t want to pay tolls, but they want roads. Most politicians understand that toll roads are going to happen, and they know how empty any promise is that, as soon as the road is paid for, tollbooths will be taken down. But it sells.

Politicians who defend toll roads are attacked as selling out the people and being corrupt. They are just trying to get voters to face facts. Those who oppose toll roads are just going any way the wind blows, knowing that, practically speaking, there really isn’t much they can do about them.

Politicians who support toll roads and then publicly come out against them are playing to the voters. The anti-toll gang calls them heroes! What for? Lying, taking a bogus stand, and pandering to voters?

The thing that voters in Texas so desperately need to hear is that established truth: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!” One way or another, you are going to pay for it – unless, of course, you have the immoral genius of the Bush administration and leave it as debt for your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Much more of this please, Louis Black. We’ve got a bunch of chicken@$#% politicians that want to raise your taxes, without telling you they’re raising your taxes. And they’re doing it with toll roads that are much more expensive, and better for those that bankroll their campaigns, than raising the gas tax. We need the AusChron to rejoin the fight, particularly since voters have begun to wise up to the ruse.

Again, EOW is not against toll roads as a piece in an overall transportation infrastructure plan. They just shouldn’t be the whole and only plan. The AusChron sees it as a lesser issue and they know their readership much better than anyone else, maybe that explains it.


  1. paprgl said,

    October 7, 2007 at 11:15 am

    You appear to have a problem recognizing the difference between a news story and an editorial. A news story tells you what is expected. An editorial takes a position on the issue.

  2. wcnews said,

    October 7, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I do know the difference, but your point is well taken. It’s the AusChron’s lack of editorial comment regarding tolls and the upcoming CAMPO vote that leave me looking for clues to where the paper stands on those issues. I won’t do that with your reporting again.

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