What could be wrong with something dubbed, ‘Toll Payer Protection Act’? Well, despite its name, HB 1951 is a special interest bill written by lobbyists, not the grassroots version of these reforms, which are SB 374 (Hall) / HB 436 (Shaheen) — genuine toll cessation and SB 382 (Hall) — toll collection reform.
Article I -
First, HB 1951 authorizes Comprehensive Development Agreements (the term used in Texas statute for public private partnership toll roads) and design-build contracts for projects over $1 billion (which is most projects in our urban areas). This is a non-starter for taxpayers. Public Private Partnerships (or P3s) hand our public highways over to private, foreign corporations in 50 year monopolies with guaranteed profits, taxpayer bailouts, and the ability to charge punitively high tolls (like LBJ in DFW that can top $24/day in peak hours). See this policy brief with details and examples of why P3s are corporate welfare and anti-taxpayer. Both party platforms have planks opposing privatized toll roads.