Tell Austin Officials “No Thank You” on $752 million in new toll roads.
This coming Monday night, May 12, Austin’s transportation officials are set to vote on $752 million to build three (3) new toll roads over the next four years. That’s a whopping 77% of all the spending projected for the Austin metro area’s 2015 to 2018 road and other “non-transit” projects.
The Texas Senate had several bills to pass today, the final day of the first called special session. However, Democrats are currently filibustering SB 5 – a pro-life bill, and have promised to continue until the session ends at midnight tonight. So this means SJR 2, the road funding bill, will die tonight. Perry is expected to call another special session immediately in order to pass the remaining bills that don’t get done by midnight.
SJR 2 takes a portion of the oil & gas severance tax revenues that would normally go into the General Revenue Fund (above and beyond the minimum amount that goes into the Rainy Day Emergency Fund) and dedicates it to fund state highways (an estimated increase of $900 million/yr though $4 billion is needed).
Amazingly, the House added a floor amendment to put the protections we asked for in the bill. So we are now in support of SJR 2. The House also overwhelmingly added an amendment to dedicate existing vehicles sales tax to roads (currently being diverted to General Revenue Fund), which would solve our road funding issues and allow us to fix TX highways WITHOUT TOLLS!
However, due to the short timeframe left in the special session, the Senate had to concur with any House changes. Key senators insisted the vehicle sales tax amendment needed to come off the bill or they would REFUSE to concur (our guess is that’s Senate Finance Committee Chair Tommy Williams who REFUSES to use ANY existing road tax revenues to fix the road funding problem – he wants to hold road funds hostage to tax increases!). So Rep. Linda Harper-Brown took the amendment off the bill a few hours later to satisfy the Senate.
Since it looks like SJR 2 won’t pass by tonight’s deadline and if Perry calls another special session, we may get another chance to pressure the Senate to fix the long-term road funding shortfall by ending road tax diversions and dedicating vehicles sales taxes to roads as part of SJR 2 or other legislation!
Feral Hogs aren't the only hogs running wild in Texas.
The people of Texas killed the grand scheme of the Trans-Texas Corridor. But according to Independent Texans, the state's only voter association for non-aligned and independent voters, the tentacles of the TTC still need to be cut-off, namely: the legislature's dangerous plan to move groundwater around the state. This Tuesday, the Natural Resources Committee in the Texas House will deliberate on the house version of SB 332, HB 1730 for "vested" water rights. They say that the bill is just part of an overall plan for groundwater transport that includes constitutional amendments that will make taxpayers pay for expensive pipelines and other projects, and to gain new taxing authority for the state — all to enrich private developers and water profiteers. (See SJR 25, HJR 137 and HJR 138.)
Slowly but surely the news is picking it up; the Trans Texas Corridor is a hot issue for this election AND Carole Keeton Strayhorn is one of the most vocal and steadfast opponent on this:
While wide open spaces separate the landowners in the path of the TTC, they are very much together in opposing it and have lots of company. The Texas Farm Bureau, and even the Texas Republican Party, is against the TTC.Â and Strayhorn attended many of the public hearing on the TTC over the summer. “They are literally cramming toll roads down Texans’ throats; and the people don’t want it,” she said.
Read the article in full.
The latest at Corridor Watch:
Â Â Associated Press’ FACT CHECK Wrong – OCT. 15, 2006
The Associated Press released analysis of a campaign ad today erroneously stating that Spain-based Cintra holds a 65-percent equity position in Cintra Zachry LP. That’s wrong. The correct equity position is 85-percent with Zachry Construction holding the small 15-percent equity balance. Zachry holds a larger 35-percent position in their collaboration with Cintra on SH-130 segments 5 and 6.
Read the rest of their article at Corridor Watch.