3 lawmakers from Collin County take aim at toll roads with 9 new bills
By Brandon Formby
February 27, 2015
Dallas Morning News
North Texans with toll road fatigue have found champions in the Texas House. Reps. Jeff Leach, Scott Sanford and Matt Shaheen are pushing a series of nine bills that aim to dismantle the bureaucratic and financial mechanisms that have paved the way for a litany of toll projects in the state.
In North Texas alone, most highway projects under construction or in the works include some sort of tolling component. And because many involve private developers expecting profits, drivers are slated to continue paying tolls long after construction costs are recouped.
Despite overwhelming opposition by the citizenry, this county judge reverses himself to side with special interests over his own constituents.
Grimes County Judge Expresses New Support For Highway 249 Toll Road
By Clay Falls
February 20, 2015
GRIMES COUNTY, Texas - Grimes County Commissioners are continuing to oppose plans for a future toll road but the County Judge is now seeing more reasons to support the project.
Last week county commissioners voted four to one in support of a resolution opposing the Highway 249 also known as the Aggie Highway.
County Judge Ben Leman told us Friday he does think a future highway like this is inevitable.
He says TxDOT's new plan to spend $2 million on feeder roads for the project would be a benefit to Grimes county.
He told us he's disappointed but not discouraged by the commissioners' resolution.
Just do a simple graph that plots the rise in education spending versus road spending and you can’t even begin to make the argument Dick Lavine made during his testimony before the Senate Transportation Committee. Hands down, education and public health eat up over 80% of the budget. Roads ranges between 4%-10%. There is no ‘underinvestment’ in schools.
There’s an overzealous, loud and demanding education bureaucracy that eats up the dollars that should be sent to the classroom. There are 3 staffers for every teacher. But by starving the classroom (the part parents and students see), they can continue to claim that more money is needed for schools. Teachers should demand an end to the bureaucrats stealing their money and refusing to put money into teacher salaries and directly into the classroom (not the buildings) - but sadly, they’d rather use teachers as a political prop as an excuse to keep eating up the budget and starving other core functions of government, like roads.
State senate panel advances road funding plan
By Dug Begley | February 25, 2015
A state senate committee moved forward Wednesday with a plan to use half the revenue from motor vehicle sales taxes for road improvements, but some senators expressed concern about unintended consequences.
The plan, sponsored by Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and with support from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, passed the Senate Transportation Committee 8-1 after two hours of discussion. Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, cast the lone dissenting vote.
Rep. Sanford, Rep. Leach, and Rep. Shaheen File Legislation for a Toll Free Texas
(AUSTIN, TX, February 24, 2015) Today, Rep. Scott Sanford (R - McKinney), Rep. Jeff Leach (R - Plano), and Rep. Matt Shaheen (R - Plano), announced a series of bills to move Texas toward a toll road free future.
Citizens who live in areas served by toll roads find themselves paying additional taxes in the form of tolls for what they feel should have been funded by their taxes paid to the state. Individuals and businesses find that these taxes/tolls have become overly burdensome on their budgets and regard them as a substantial tax increase.
Furthermore, citizens have felt left out of the decision making process when it comes to transportation policy and decision-making. Too many times, they hear about a distant “Authority” or “Council” over which they have no familiarity, run by names that never appear on their ballots.
Watch what happened on Fox 29 here.
(Note: The reporter mistook the agenda item where citizens' comment known as 'Citizens to be Heard' as the name of our group.)
Commissioners approve tolls
for northside of San Antonio
Reaffirm tolls on US 281, I-10 despite
more road money coming to fix non-toll
(San Antonio, TX - Tuesday, January 17, 2015) Today, Bexar County commissioners passed a resolution brought by Kevin Wolff to 'reaffirm' what's been dubbed the $825 million 'Super Toll Plan' for toll lanes on US 281 (from Loop 1604 to the county line) and I-10 (from Loop 1604 to Boerne), and the initial non-toll expansion of Loop 1604 W (though tolls are coming from Bandera Rd. to I-35).
Abbott state of the state speech promises adequate road funds without tolls
By Terri Hall
February 17, 2015
Texas Governor Greg Abbott outlined his priorities in his first state-of-the-state address today in a joint session of the Texas legislature, and he unequivocally promised to add $4 billion a year more to roads without raising taxes, fees, debt or tolls. That’s music to the ears of most Texans, beleaguered and weary of toll roads popping up on nearly every major highway across Texas. Abbott’s predecessor, former Governor Rick Perry, made toll roads, especially those funded through public private partnerships, the centerpiece of his transportation policy for 14 years. Now it’s coming home to roost, and Texans are saying ‘No more!’ Essentially, Abbott said ‘I hear you’ and I have a plan to fix it.
To show just how serious he is, Abbott declared transportation an emergency item, allowing these funding initiatives to be fast-tracked and considered earlier than normal. The governor’s funding plan tracks with what the grassroots have been advocating for two sessions: ending diversions of state highway funds to non-road purposes and dedicating a portion of the vehicle sales tax to roads. In addition, Abbott’s plan reaches $4 billion when combined with half of the oil and gas severance tax known as Proposition 1 funds that Texas voters overwhelmingly passed last November.
This is offensive. Our federal tax money is PAYING people to carpool by reducing or reimbursing their tolls! So those of us who don’t fall into the social engineering incentives of big government, are paying for other people’s tolls meanwhile we pay for full price to access those toll roads. This is a form of punishment for single occupancy vehicles - those who have to ride to work alone. A $1 million federal grant won't last long if even a small number of people seek reimbursment for tolls. After the TxDOT-Xerox toll billing nightmare, do we really need any more evidence that a government toll reimbursement program will be handled any better? Seriously!
What's the benefit of this Carma App anyway? Why would someone pay 20 cents a mile to carpool? They may as well drive their own car, and there’s some serious liability involved when matching total strangers to ride in a car together.
App reimburses carpoolers for paying tolls
By Amber Downing
February 10, 2015
AUSTIN -- Austin is well known for it's traffic troubles, and the ever-growing population means it gets more crowded every day.
A new feature on a carpooling app may help. Commuters can now use Carma, a real-time, ride-sharing smart phone app, that pairs people with similar commute routes and schedules to enable them to find a ride or fill up their empty seats.
The app has partnered with TxTag, so drivers can be reimbursed for using toll roads. However, lately some people have raised concerns about billing issues, questioning how the app will work.
Xerox toll collection problems explode in Senate hearing
By Terri Hall
February 11, 2015
If ever there was a time to air the dirty laundry of a state agency in chaos, it’s the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and its $100 million contract with Xerox for toll collections in Central Texas. Today’s Senate Transportation Committee hearing put TxDOT and its contractor on the hot seat with plenty of rapid fire questions from incredulous senators who could hardly believe their ears. TxDOT admitted 3.5 million toll transactions got caught up in the billing snafu that sent up to 2-year-old bills to Austin motorists, many of them padded with steep late fees and fines.
At least 30,000 motorists had valid toll tag accounts that should have been charged through their accounts, but instead received paper bills adding an extra 33% for pay-by-mail as well as additional late fees. When they tried to reach customer service at TxDOT’s toll-free number, they faced extremely long wait times before anything could be resolved.
Even more amazing was the response from Xerox Vice President Laurie Zazadio when she was asked to testify. She stated her name, said Xerox was making improvements, and concluded her remarks saying she can answer any questions.
Amen! It's about time we finally make progress on shoring up our road funding shortfalls - and this bill does it without raising taxes and it can't go to toll roads!
Patrick, Nichols: Put Car Sales Tax Toward Roads
by Aman Batheja
Feb. 4, 2015
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick publicly backed a plan Wednesday to boost transportation funding by billions of dollars a year by dedicating some of the sales tax already collected on car sales to road work.
Patrick said he supported a proposal from Senate Transportation Chairman Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, that would ask voters to amend the Texas Constitution to dedicate any vehicle sales tax revenue beyond $2.5 billion annually to the state's highway fund. Nichols' plan would start in fiscal year 2018; until then, all of the vehicle sales tax collected — about $4 billion annually — would continue to go to the state’s all-purpose general fund.
We agree, toll collection methods are a HUGE threat to personal liberties.
Tolls impede the American spirit of the open road
By Tom Jackson
February 02, 2015
Jack Kerouac would weep, were he alive today.
The author famous for making road trips a rite of passage would be shocked to find how tolls, tickets and traffic fines are being used as revenue enhancement schemes and an extension of the American surveillance state.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Drug Enforcement Administration had developed a program to photograph license plates put them in a database to track drug dealers and criminals. You can read a synopsis of it here.
The government won’t say how many license plates are in the database, but it’s reportedly in the “millions.” And like so many other government programs, this one has morphed into a “massive domestic intelligence-gathering program.”
NOTE: TURF prefers Rep. Yvonne Davis’ (HB 1004) bill and Sen. Bob Hall’s (SB 444) bill to remove the eminent domain authority from these private toll corporations. Their bills are stronger than Burkett’s and no loopholes.
Texas Lawmaker Proposes Ban On Toll Road Land Confiscation
Texas state representative proposes to deny privately owned toll roads their authority to seize land through eminent domain.
February , 2015
Opponents of toll roads in Texas no longer want to see the public gets the worst end of the bargain in "public-private partnerships. That is why state Representative Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale) introduced legislation for the current session to strip private entities of the power of taking land from citizens for the use of toll road builders.
Burkett's proposal, House Bill 565, would prohibit the Texas Turnpike Corporation from taking land through eminent domain as if it were a governmental entity. A law adopted in 1991 gave the corporation this exclusive authority.
Texans oppose high speed rail through their communities, as they did when it was packaged as part of the Trans Texas Corridor. Impacts deemed 'catastrophic'!
Montgomery County leaders, residents rally against proposed high-speed rail
by Liza Winkler
February 3, 2015
An estimated 800 Montgomery County officials and residents gathered Feb. 2 at the Lone Star Community Center in Montgomery to speak out against the proposed construction of a 240-mile high-speed rail project between Houston and Dallas by 2021.
“[The high-speed rail] is one of the biggest threats to Montgomery County in many, many years,” retired Montgomery County Judge Alan Sadler said. “Once those [assessed property value] decreases take place if this train hits this route in Montgomery County, the entirety of the county will pay the tax differential to make up for the loss. It is extreme.”
TxDOT just imposed $177,000 in fines for the problems associated with this contract. Who in their right minds spends $20 million a year to collect tolls for 3 lousy toll roads operated by TxDOT in Austin? This is a colossal waste of money. End this toll road abuse, get back to FREEways again!
TxDOT: Toll Billing Problems Being Addressed
by Aman Batheja
Jan. 29, 2015
Amid complaints from drivers about confusing bills and shoddy customer service, the Texas Department of Transportation said Thursday it is working to address concerns with its new toll billing system.
TxDOT signed a five-year, $100 million contract with Xerox last year for the company to take over its tolling operations, including billing and customer service. In recent months, some drivers on Texas toll roads have faced bills that were higher than they expected. Adding to their frustration? Long wait times on customer service calls and difficulty accessing accounts online.
Note: the Original price tag was $136 million, now it’s going up to $197 million because of some ’stubborn’ limestone? That’s hardly a $61 million problem. That’s the trouble with these design-build contracts, the cost always goes up! Change orders, change orders, change orders - it’s how these companies game the system and the taxpayers. End the Regional Mobility Authorities. They exist to WASTE our money and impose unaccountable toll taxes.
MoPac's new toll roads likely to be delayed a few months
By Nick Simonite
Austin Business Journal
Jan 29, 2015
This highway has a habit of slowing anything down in its path — including construction crews. The toll lanes to be added to MoPac Expressway won't be typical. They'll be "managed lanes," meaning that the toll will fluctuate depending on traffic conditions. The heavier the traffic, the bigger the toll.
MoPac Expressway's new toll lanes may be ready at the end of the year rather than in September, the Austin-American Statesman reports.
Contractor problems and tougher-than-expected limestone are partly to blame, according to the report, which states that the 11-mile-long highway makeover still will cost less than the $197 million that the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority was granted for the project.
Transportation Reform: Fiscal Responsibility First
January 26, 2015
By Ross Kecseg
Predictably, the Austin establishment is calling for higher taxes, rainy-day raids and further expansion of “regionally managed” toll lanes as a means to finance roadway expansion. But before Texans allow more money to be indiscriminately thrown at transportation, the legislature should first reform the use of existing tax revenue.
The most obvious reform is to reduce motor fuel sales tax diversions, which currently sends 52% of tax revenue away from road projects and debt service. Even the federally mandated, state subsidized, liberal leaning planning bodies like North Texas’ Regional Transportation Council (RTC) oppose these diversions.
Doing so would likely require several other structural reforms to state budgeting; such as eliminating non-essential programs and agencies, dedicating future revenue streams to transportation, reforming the budgeting process to prioritize core conservative principles, and enacting stricter spending growth limits—all of which will enrage the lobbying class.
We've been trying to get this data made public ever since Rick Perry made it secret in 2007. We MUST have openess and transparanecy with this data - the pulci has a right to know if a toll road will be financially solvent BEFORE decisions are made, bond debt issued, or other public money committed.
Trinity Parkway traffic and toll estimates can be withheld, AG says
Published: 26 January 2015
The North Texas Tollway Authority has spent 15 years and more than $1.7 million estimating the traffic impact and revenue potential of the proposed Trinity Parkway.
The agency collected the habits of Dallas drivers, the effect of various access points and how the toll road would affect nearby land usage.
That information could bolster or undercut arguments surrounding the project. It could also give a deeper understanding of the project’s potential risks and payoffs.
But the NTTA doesn’t have to share any of the information with the public.
More waste at TxDOT. Taxpayers pay TxDOT engineers for continuing education at PRIVATE, very epxensive universities. Cut the waste and get back to building highways!
TxDOT Spends Millions in Tuition Reimbursements
By Terri Langford, Bobby Blanchard and Becca Aaronson
Jan. 22, 2015
When it comes to reimbursing state employees for education costs, the Texas Department of Transportation is far more generous than other state agencies.
After reporting this month that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission paid a top aide's $97,020 MBA tuition, The Texas Tribune took a closer look at how much state agencies reimburse employees for education costs. Of the $23.8 million state agencies spent from 2002 to part of January 2015 on tuition, conferences and other educational programs for employees, close to half went to TxDOT staffers, according to data from the Texas comptroller’s office.
TxDOT spokeswoman Veronica Beyer could not explain why the agency spends much more on staffer education than other agencies. She said doing so helps the agency attract and retain the most talented staff.
Man Keeps Receiving Toll Road Bill
The bill is for a vehicle from another state that he does not own
Jan 14, 2015
MISSION - A Mission man said he has been battling with the Texas Department of Transportation for years. The problem is a TxTag toll bill he received by mistake.
The man called 5 On Your Side for help.
Elwood and Avis Hedin have been coming down to the Rio Grande Valley from Minnesota for years.
“It's very frustrating. When you are talking to a person, it's like talking to a machine,” said Elwood Hedin.
It was back in 2012 when Hedin first got a bill from the Texas Department of Transportation's TxTag Office, which handles toll roads.
He paid his small bill, but then started getting billed for another vehicle which was not his.
Why should a single Texas taxpayer pay for truckers to have toll discounts when we all have to pay full price to take the failing SH 130 tollway? This is not good policy and only prolongs the inevitable - bankruptcy for an ill-conceived toll road. This taxpayer subsidy should never happen.
Multiple segments of Texas 130 eyed for truck toll discounts
By Keith Goble
Land Line state legislative editor
January 9, 2015
Truckers traveling through central Texas could soon get another enticement to avoid driving on Interstate 35. In an effort to reduce congestion on I-35 through the Austin area, multiple Texas state lawmakers are behind an effort to reduce truck tolls along a 49-mile stretch of state Highway 130.
The 90-mile highway connects the state capital with San Antonio to the south. It is split into six segments. Segments 1 through 4 link Georgetown to south Austin and are run by the state Department of Transportation. Segments 5 and 6 are closest to San Antonio and are run by a private group.
Sens. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and Rep. Celia Israel D-Austin, have filed bills for consideration during the session that begins Tuesday, Jan. 13, that would reduce the expense for truckers to travel along segments 1 through 4.
Senators call for federal gas tax hike
By Mary Troyan
January 11, 2015
WASHINGTON — Low gas prices have rekindled talk on Capitol Hill about raising the federal gas tax to eliminate huge annual deficits in the federal Highway Trust Fund that pays for road and bridge work around the country.
While some top Republicans remain adamant a tax hike is not the answer, there are signs that the idea, including one from Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, is at least getting a fresh look.
Corker and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., have proposed raising the federal gas tax by 12 cents over two years and indexing it to inflation. To make the concept more palatable to fiscal conservatives, the measure would lower other taxes.
The 18.4-cent-per-gallon gas tax hasn't been raised since 1993. As vehicles have become more efficient, the revenue generated by the tax has dropped. Current stopgap funding for the Highway Trust Fund expires in May, and transportation officials in Tennessee and other states are holding back projects until uncertainty about the federal money is addressed.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said this week a gas tax increase could not be ruled out. Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, agreed.
They did not endorse Corker's bill, but their comments represent more of an opening than when gas prices topped $4 a gallon.
"What we floated is obvious. There is not enough money coming in," Corker said last week.
Transportation: Pay As You Go
Transportation bills focus on funding and taxes
By Michael King
Fri., Jan. 9, 2015
If there's an incipient theme in the transportation-related bills filed thus far, it's roughly "Show Me the Money." There are several bills, including joint resolutions aimed at eventual constitutional amendments, that would re-allocate various taxes and/or fees related to transportation, mostly attempting to confine all such funding to direct highway construction. That's the thrust of HJR 28 and 29 (Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso) as well as HJR 36 (Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio), although each has different emphases; curiously, both are drafted as temporary, two-year amendments to the infinitely flexible Texas Constitution.
A similar trend includes various attempts to make certain all transportation money is dedicated to highways – and highways only. One strategy is to require a public referendum for any attempt to create and manage a "fixed rail system" (HB 527, Larson); such high democratic standards seldom seem to apply to major highway construction. Other bills would redirect all gas tax revenue to road construction, and away from the permanent school fund or anything else not highway related (SB 61, Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas; HB 129, Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth). With new funding headed to transportation following the passage of November's Prop. 1 (Rainy Day Funds for transportation), there will certainly be persistent efforts to define "transportation" to mean exclusively "poured concrete." And Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, would attempt (SB 119) to make transit system management more difficult by requiring that agency boards be elected, not appointed.
Transportation Committees major factor in needed reforms
By Terri Hall
January 25, 2015
When Texas voters elected a new Governor and Lt. Governor, they ushered in a new era of leadership that promised key reforms in the arena of transportation - promising to address the structural funding shortfalls without tolls as well as problems with processes and efficiencies. Much of the new policy will be shaped by who Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus tap as Transportation Committee members. Patrick just announced his picks Friday and Straus is expected to announce his soon.
So let’s take a look at Patrick’s picks for the Senate Transportation Committee. Senator Robert Nichols (R - Jacksonville) will remain the Chair, but most notable are the new faces on the committee, including four new senators Bob Hall (R - Kaufman County), Don Huffines (R -Dallas), Lois Kolkhorst (R -Brenham), and Van Taylor (R - Plano). Taylor and Kolkhorst formerly served in the Texas House. All of the new senators are anti-toll. Huffines was appointed Vice Chair, which is a big nod. Compare that to just one anti-toll committee member last session and none in prior sessions, and this is a Texas-sized step forward for taxpayers.
Fails to turn toll lanes back to free lanes on 281 as promised
By Terri Hall
Jan., 26, 2015
Today, the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) decided how Prop 1 funds would be spent on area roads. Notably absent, again, was Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff whose precinct encompasses the controversial toll project on US 281. His father, the County Judge Nelson Wolff, sent a letter to the Transportation Commission asking for Prop 1 funds to be used to turn toll lanes into free lanes on US 281 if Prop 1 passed, and yet there's a deafening silence from both Wolffs now that Wolff was re-elected county judge.
Rather than turn toll lanes back to free lanes on US 281 as promised and as its own policy requires, the board unanimiously chose to spend $124 million in new money that voters approved, which can only be spent on non-toll projects, to non-priority minor fixes to frontage roads on I-10 near Boerne and on Hwy 90. Neither project is on the state's 100 Most Congested Roads List. US 281 has been consistently on the list for years and even ranked the #1 most stressful road in the state per the Commuter Stress Index. None of the new funds will be used on major congestion relief projects that add capacity to major corridors - all of which are slated to be tolled.
Governor proposes a toll road plan 'as big as Texas'
Aman Batheja | Texas Tribune | Posted: January 7, 2015
Rick Perry was just a year into his tenure as governor when he proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, a massive 4,000-mile network of privately operated toll roads, railroad tracks and utility lines that would take 50 years to build.
“This plan is as big as Texas and as ambitious as our people,” Perry said at the first of many events touting the project.
The corridor he envisioned would never become a reality, but he still managed to leave his mark on the state’s approach to funding roads. Under his leadership, Texas has been the country’s most aggressive supporter of tolling and private-sector investment in transportation.
Privatizing highways using P3s (called AFPs in Canada) cost Canadians $8 billion more than if the government had done the toll projects. Bottom line, P3s cost far more than the quicker delivery is worth.
Government-managed projects could save Ontario money: Auditor-General
By Adrian Morrow
The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, Dec. 09 2014
Public-private partnerships have cost Ontario taxpayers nearly $8-billion more on infrastructure over the past nine years than if the government had successfully built the projects itself.
This is what is happening all over Texas, too: “It’s crazy. Gas is going down but what we’re saving on gas we’re spending on tolls.” Tolls have gone up 54% overall in Miami and that’s the pattern for toll roads - perpetual, ever increasing, unaccountable taxation. This is the legacy of Rick Perry that's well articulated by this frustrated motorist quoted below: “They’re taxing the crap out of people.”
Tolls on 836, 112 have driver tempers flaring
By Glenn Garvin
It may take a full year to evaluate how a new toll system on State Roads 836 and 112 has affected traffic, expressway authorities say, but the effect on motorists’ tempers is pretty clear: They’re flaring.
“An abuse of power!” fumes Coral Gables architect Maria Luisa Castellanos. “Taxation without representation.” says Jim Angleton, who owns a cluster of financial services scattered across Miami-Dade: “They’re taxing the crap out of people.”
Transportation Diversions Are the Enemy of Transparency
by Ross Kecseg
December 31, 2014
Lazy politicians maintain that Texans should pay higher taxes, fees and tolls if we hope to meet roadway demand spurred by population growth. However, they fail to mention the gas tax revenue we already pay is diverted to unrelated programs with billions more spent by transportation agencies on non-road projects.
A simple example is our state’s gas tax. The legislature levies it specifically for the State Highway fund…and then diverts 52% of it elsewhere. Transportation is such a “high priority” that Republicans gleefully divert more than half of road money away from what it was created to finance—roads.
John Thune Puts Gas Tax Hike on the Table for GOP Senate
by Dan Riehl
4 Jan 2015
The incoming chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) put all options on the table when it comes to replenishing the shrinking Highway Trust Fund, which is widely seen as opening the door to a tax increase.
Per an AP report, “Gas and diesel taxes haven’t risen since 1993, resulting in perennial shortfalls in the fund that pays for most road projects”.
Several commissions have called for raising the taxes, but Congress has been reluctant. Instead lawmakers have dipped repeatedly into the general treasury to keep the trust fund solvent.
The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and the diesel tax is 24.4 cents per gallon.
Thune made the comments while on “Fox News Sunday.”
It’s reports like this one that we’ll use to hold state leaders accountable for how they spend our hard-earned tax money this next budget cycle. They promise more money for roads, but TxDOT’s perpetual excuse to levy toll taxes on every highway will continue to be ‘it’s still not enough’ unless we demand NONE of this new money or existing tax revenues can be used to build toll roads. If they’re going to build a toll road, it should pay for itself with just the toll users alone - no tax money!
Tax relief figures high on legislative budget priorities
By Peggy Fikac
December 6, 2014
AUSTIN — Texans can expect tax relief, a focus on border security and more efforts to fight traffic congestion when a cash-flush Legislature convenes in January.
The budget priorities line up with campaign promises from Republican state leaders and lawmakers, who handily won their spots with a message of keeping state government lean while carefully weighing additional spending for its benefits.
Prop 1 special section
Link to article here.
Doubts about Prop 1 loom in light of oil bust
By Terri Hall
January 4, 2015
When Texas lawmakers punted on road funding with passage of Proposition One last year, they never anticipated the Texas oil boom would abruptly crater. It took three special sessions to round up the two-thirds majority needed to place a Constitutional amendment on the ballot for Texas voters to decide if they wanted to raid half of the state’s oil and gas severance tax (a tax on new oil wells) and divert those revenues to the State Highway Fund. With the promise that the new funds could not be used to build or support toll roads, Texas voters gave the green light. But the euphoria lawmakers felt after getting away with gaining new highway funds without ending diversions of the gasoline tax has quickly turned to doubt as the plummeting price of gasoline has severely tempered oil production in the Lone Star State.
- Big govt snoop: Toll tags in three states now interoperable
- Navasota residents leery of proposed toll road
- Toll roads going belly-up
- Double digit tolls to fund I-70 in Missouri
- Falling oil prices could deepen road funding woes
- 2014: Year of public backlash to tolls
- North Carolina reporter travels to Dallas to check-out Cintra's tollway
- Salzman on Toll Roads to Ruin: The catch to public private partnerships
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- Hill country landowner wins a round in legal fight with developer
- Grassroots unveil toll road reforms at Capitol for Toll-free Texas Day
- Austin’s complete streets policy a complete nightmare
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Latest Press Releases
- Commissioners approve tolls for northside of San Antonio
- Can TxDOT use gas taxes to support toll roads? Kolkhorst asks AG for opinion on Prop 15
- Passage of Prop 1 opens door to fix 281 without tolls
- Anti-toll candidates snatch key positions in Texas
- Citizens ask cities & counties to oppose Blacklands private toll road
- Election victory represents power shift that will benefit anti-tollers
- Obama seeks to lift ban on tolling existing freeways
- Krier's conflicts of interest pose problem for council seat