By Terri Hall
September 22, 2017
It’s not very often that an elected official does what he promised he would do, but that’s exactly what residents of House District 128 (spanning from east Houston south to Baytown, Deer Park and LaPorte) got when they voted for Briscoe Cain. He ran opposing new tolls and made the prevention of slapping tolls on existing lanes — a double tax — the centerpiece of his campaign.
When it came time to do what he promised, Cain filed an amendment to the must-pass Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) sunset bill, SB 312, to prevent the conversion of free lanes into toll lanes. Working in a bi-partisan effort with his House colleague who filed the same language, Cain got the amendment passed as part of the final bill.
Another critical measure Cain took was preventing a bad bill to privatize and toll 19 more Texas highways (including 290 and I-45 in Houston) and one international bridge from passing. The bill first came up as HB 2861 by Rep. Larry Phillips. Cain, again in a bi-partisan fashion, worked with both fellow members of the Freedom Caucus and a Democrat to rally the votes needed to kill the bill. Such public-private toll contracts result in tolls exceeding $24/day just to get to work like commuters in the Metroplex face today on two such deals on I-635 and I-820. These corporations gain access to millions in gas taxes to subsidize their guaranteed profits, and taxpayers guaranteed the loans on those privatized toll projects in DFW.
Then, when special interests tried to resurrect the private toll contracts and had two amendments drafted to tack onto the TxDOT sunset bill — one to authorize a handful of specific public-private toll projects and another by Rep. Dade Phelan that would have opened the door to allowing toll entities to enter into an unlimited number of such contracts without expiration — Cain sprung into action to find a way to kill it. Seeing that the amendment pertained to toll entities that were not relevant to a TxDOT specific bill, he along with Freedom Caucus colleague Rep. Tony Tinderholt threatened to call a point of order on the amendments and forced the authors to withdraw them, saving Texas taxpayers from an enormous runaway tax in the hands of private corporations just to get to work.
Cain received an A+ from anti-groups for his freshmen session. Combined with his stellar ratings from an array of pro-taxpayer groups and receiving the top conservative rating from Rice University’s analysis of all record votes taken in the House, Cain has earned the honor of being named a true taxpayer champion.