Is The Texas GOP Going To Scapegoat Perry On Transportation?

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Road Issues at 12:44 pm by wcnews

The Republican plan of neglecting and defuding our transportation infrastructure, in order to make toll roads more palatable to the public, is scaring many GOP elected officials. Especially those that are not Rick Perry, and want to keep their current office/gavel, or may want to run for higher office some day. This recent AAS article, Borrow more for roads, legislators urge transportation department, makes it clear that this failed conservative policy has got many state GOP leaders in such a bind they’re willing to go into debt:

Go borrow some money and build some things, legislative leaders told the Texas Department of Transportation in a letter Tuesday.

The short letter — signed by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, House Speaker Tom Craddick, Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden and House Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum — recommends that TxDOT borrow another $1.5 billion against future gas tax revenue to bridge a temporary financial tight spot. The Legislature, the letter promises, will make sure that some of the gas tax money now diverted to other, nonhighway-construction needs will be returned to the agency to back the bonds. (Emphasis added)

The legislature over the years has been diverting gas tax money away from it’s intended purpose, building and maintaining roads. In essence, adding to the infrastructure problem by using that money to help them “balance” their budgets without raising taxes. Don’t worry though in the next biennium they’re willing to give some, no all mind you, of it back.

Of course this failed policy of tolling everything has caused problems locally for Republicans all over the state as well. Here’s a snapshot of some of the area roads that had construction halted because of the lack of funding caused the the legislatures diversions.

In Central Texas, where this year’s engineering budget was cut from $45.2 million to $19.6 million, road projects were put on hold or became candidates for local funding. Those projects included adding lanes to MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and the widening of FM 1460 between Round Rock and Georgetown, RM 2338 in Williamson County, and Texas 195, which runs from Interstate 35 in Williamson County to Killeen.

While complicit in this until the curtain was pulled back, many in the Texas GOP will try to pin this on Perry, whose electability in Texas is shot. This is what conservatism brings. If they would have told people up front that we’re going to toll every new highway, nobody would have voted for them. Instead they attempt to bring it about by showing it’s the only way out of a mess they created. Sounds like voodoo economics to me.

1 Comment »

  1. HeavyDuty said,

    March 13, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    No private toll roads in Texas!

    In the last, Texas, state legislative session the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) was put on hold, but no other method was made available for funding new road construction, or operating and maintaining existing infrastructure. So, the Perry appointees at TxDOT HQ whine that there’s no money for them to do their job; a corner they willfully backed into.

    There has been an experiment in a private toll road in south Texas, the Camino-Columbia toll road, where drivers proved that they would much rather wait in snarled traffic than pay profitable toll rates. So, the lesson that Perry’s minions at TxDOT HQ learned was that you take negotiations for privately owned toll roads behind closed doors and give away the farm.

    TX is now the second most populous state in the nation and is burdened with a burgeoning flow of NAFTA related traffic. This has put a tremendous, and increasing, burden on the ground transportation infrastructure of our state in the last decade, while inflation has upped the cost of building, operating and maintaining said facilities. Yet our fuel taxes have stagnated for well more than 10 years. Our state legislature wants us to believe that the only adequate solution is to turn our road and train routes over to private, campaign contributing, companies.

    We’ve had one proof of the concept that common carriage transportation is not going to be sufficiently profitable for private companies, but if more proof is needed it should be on a project much smaller than the TTC. In the meantime let’s take care of the current needs by raising the state and federal fuel taxes, as the federal government’s commission has wisely suggested.

    See also:

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