Ben Wear’s Toll Road Update

Posted in 80th Legislature, Road Issues at 10:54 pm by wcnews

Here’s his Monday column, March madness over tolls grips Legislature. It opens with sappy drivel about poor Last Term Krusee having to atone for the disaster he “carried” through the legislature the two sessions ago. Ben does make a great point about how much TxDOT’s lack of inclusiveness, and disrespect for the local toll authorities have played into TxDOT, Krusee and Perry’s problems. There was also a noticed change in tone. Ben had always given little, if any, chance that bills would get a hearing in Krusee’s committee, much less get through it, by chance, if that was able to happen then it would always be vetoed by Perry.

For a number of reasons — campaign trail grumbling last year, disputes with Dallas and Houston toll road agencies, lack of deference to legislators by Texas transportation commissioners, turf battles over huge pots of money suddenly coming Texas’ way — the Legislature has been gripped by a sort of March madness over tollways, particularly those that would be in private hands for a half-century.What remains to be seen is what the madness will lead to by the end of the session May 28. As transportation chairman, Krusee can, in theory, block most legislation seeking to roll back tollway powers. And Perry could veto whatever makes it to his desk.

But more than two-thirds of the Legislature has signed on to legislation that would put a two-year moratorium on concessions, contracts with private companies to build and run toll roads. Dozens of other bills limiting tollway powers have been filed. And powerful legislators, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, are talking about using the power of the purse to curb the Transportation Department.

Perry and Krusee may have no choice but to make concessions on concessions and on other prongs of their toll road agenda.

Watch the budget,” Ogden said. “At the end of the day, TxDOT can’t spend a dime without our permission. So, watch the budget.”

Yes they may. Again we read about Sen. Ogden doing the right thing and he appears fully aware of the “power of the purse” he has and doesn’t appear afraid to use it.

As posted here recently this is an issue that will cause long-term damage to the Republican Party in Texas if they don’t do something to rectify the damage they’ve allowed two very unpopular politicians in their party to cause. They can allow this to fester at their own peril.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.