Sunset Review Will Be Lacking

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Election 2008, Privatization, Road Issues at 10:13 am by wcnews

There’s something that’s probably not going to be discussed or get much play in the traditional media or the Sunset Review of TxDOT. It’s the same thing that was responsible for FEMA’s nonreaction to Hurricane Katrina, the disastrous results at Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and the mortgage crisis. People that believe government is the problem and can’t provide solutions have been running it, and running it into the ground, for far too long. We, Texans and Americans, can’t expect good results from our government when it’s being run by people that see it as the problem and not able to provide solutions. Appointing unqualified cronies, defunding needed projects, and no longer doing oversight, is no way to run a government.

The idea that’s getting all the pre-release hype is this, Panel proposes changes for TxDOT:

Among the proposed changes, the staff recommends replacing the five-member commission with a single commissioner, who would have a two-year term rather than the current six-year term. The shorter term would put the required confirmation before the Senate more often, giving lawmakers more oversight.

It’s not the commission that’s the problem but the ideology that’s been driving it. Texas used to have one of the best transportation systems in the country but not any longer. The withering of our roads didn’t occur because we have five commissioners instead of one conservator, that’s for sure. Over the last 15-20 years Texas’ government has been taken over by an ideology that believes, to it’s core, that government is bad, and can’t do anything right. And they’ve governed in a way to prove themselves right - an ideological self-fulfilling prophecy.

Texas was taken over by this ideology in the form of the Texas GOP. They believe that keeping taxes low takes priority over everything else. Roads, children’s health care, public education, college tuition, the list goes on. And that what can no longer be paid for will either be sold or leased to the highest bidder, or left up to the so-called free market. Corporate welfare and tax subsidies excluded, of course. And it doesn’t matter if it will wind up costing the consumer and future generations much more than a meager tax increase would have.

Of course it’s doubtful that ideology will be addressed in the Sunset report. Maybe the defunding of our transportation infrastructure will be, to some extent, but only as an aside. Our current and former governor were and are vehemently against raising any tax, no matter how justified. The legislature has been in the same boat for much of that time. Many Democrats in the legislature, while it was still under Democratic control, embraced the no tax mantra too, feeling they had to in order to get reelected and keep power.

A new House/Senate legislative committee is not a solution either. There are already transportation committee’s in both chambers. Another partisan committee appointed by Speaker and Lt. Gov. Is not the answer either. Don’t blame the Sunset Commission for this, their hands were tied, and they had to come up with something. It was doubtful that the ideological legislative appointees were going to allow a report out that would show how bankrupt their ideology is.

We live in a Democracy, and elections are when we hold our elected officials accountable. If we don’t like the way our transportation infrastructure, or government as a whole, is being handled we need to make sure our elected officials get the message at the ballot box. Having Gov. Perry appoint just Deirdre Delisi to the head TxDOT instead of Delisi and four others wouldn’t change our current situation at all. And having her overseen by a few senators and house members appointed by Craddick and Dewhurst liikely wouldn’t change anything either. Accountability comes in November.

Read the report here [.pdf]. Their six recommended changes are:

  • achieve greater accountability under the oversight of a single Commissioner of Transportation;
  • enhance the Legislature’s role through a Transportation Legislative Oversight Committee;
  • provide better access to independent transportation information and research;
  • increase transparency of TxDOT’s transportation planning and project development process;
  • improve TxDOT’s public involvement efforts; and
  • make the Department’s contracting functions more accountable, particularly its development of comprehensive development agreements.

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