New tricks? 'Availability payments' a public private partnership in sheep's clothing
By Terri Hall
May 8, 2013
The Texas legislature is considering another 'tool in the toolbox' to build roads, without the controversial concession public private partnership (P3) model, called ‘availability payments.’ House bill 3650by Rep. Linda Harper-Brown opens the door to this type of P3 where the private sector pays for the road and gets paid back as money is ‘available.’
The argument by proponents is that payments to the private entity are only made if money is appropriated or 'available,' and that it does not constitute a debt to the state. However, this 'tool' puts ALL Texas taxpayers on the hook for repayment of the project. Whether it’s a toll project and revenues are inadequate to repay the obligation or debt to the private company, or a non-toll project, taxpayers are obligated to re-pay the private entity, presumably with interest. Just because the debt is off the balance sheet, doesn't mean taxpayers are not obligated to pay it.
A common myth believed by elected officials who foist these bad deals on taxpayers comes from the idea that the private entity brings all the money to the table for the project and hence takes on the risk if the project fails. That would be how a true private road project would be financed. However, that's NOT the case with public private partnerships (P3s) or CDAs as they're known in Texas.
Here's what the excerpt from the article says:
Hall suggested Loop 1604 isn't even toll viable, and no for-profit company would want to take that risk.
As an example, in its initial months of operation, the Texas 130 extension, which at 85 mph has the highest speed limit in the nation, drew only half the number of drivers originally expected on the toll road.
But Judge Wolff said, so what?
“That's what a concession agreement does, it puts the risk on the concessionaire,” Wolff said. “Seems like the state was pretty smart.”
SOLD: Lawmakers vote to sell-off Texas roads to private corporations
By Terri Hall
May 1, 2013
Yesterday, the Texas House joined the Senate in voting for SB 1730 (authored by Robert Nichols, House sponsor Larry Phillips) to hand 20 Texas highways to private corporations in controversial contracts called public private partnerships(P3s) or comprehensive development agreements (CDAs) despite public opposition. These sweetheart deals are designed to extract exorbitantly high toll rates, as high as 75 cents per mile, and guarantee profits, using taxpayers to socialize losses and privatize profits.
This crucial vote will effect the next three generations of Texans since P3s grant private, even foreign, entities government-sanctioned monopolies for 50 years. By limiting the expansion of free roads and, in effect, guaranteeing congestion on free routes through non-compete agreements, P3s hamper future transportation needs of the public -- for up to 30 years in Texas. P3s also erode property rights taking land in the name of 'public use,' but turning it into a private purpose for private gain.
Virginia Residents Protest Against Toll Roads
Virginia residents protest latest plan to convert freeway lanes into a toll road.
April 8, 2013
About 100 residents of Alexandria, Virginia gathered Saturday to protest the conversion of the Interstate 395 high occupancy vehicle lanes into a toll road. The Concerned Residents of Landmark, a group representing eight homeowners associations in the area, are concerned that the plan includes building an elevated ramp that will raise freeway traffic up to the level of nearby homes, within 75 feet of some buildings.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) chose to end the toll road at the Landmark location instead of running the toll lanes all the way to Washington, DC because the city of Arlington filed a lawsuit that blocked the toll road from extending north through the city.
Link to article here.
6 Reasons to Be Wary of Public-Private Partnerships
By Laura Barrett
April 5, 2013
During his recent visit to Miami, President Obama praised Public Private Partnerships ("P3s") and lifted up the idea of a national infrastructure bank. While most Americans support the idea of building a sustainable economy and fixing decaying infrastructure, building up a national system of public-private partnerships is a whole other animal and needs to be carefully considered. The record on P3 agreements is mixed at best.
DOUBLE TAX: Texas lawmakers vote to use property taxes to build toll roads
By Terri Hall
April 25, 2013
While the Texas House and Senate are busy competing over which chamber can come up with the most funding for public schools, another top priority of state government has taken a back seat -- roads. Though roads are needed to get to school, work, and make our economy thrive, state lawmakers continue to demonstrate that roads are NOT a top funding priority for state government. Instead, lawmakers are content to push the state’s obligation to fund our state highway system down to the local level by using LOCAL sales tax and property tax to build STATE highway projects.
Senate Bill 1110 that passed the Texas House today will go straight to Governor Rick Perry’s desk. The bill gives local authorities the ability to use property tax and sales tax to build TOLL projects. So the road would be built with tax money, but Texans would be charged a toll to actually use the road.
This is the next step in creating a NAFTA superhighway trade corridor through east Texas. I-69 used to be known as Trans Texas Corridor 69 (TTC-69) and was going to fall into the hands of ACS, a Spanish toll operator, who was awarded the initial development rights but eventually found the project to be unprofitable and never entered into a final public private partnership contract.
Portions of US 59 lined with new IH 69 signs
By Cory Stottlemyer
Ft. Bend News
April 15, 2013
In February, the Texas Transportation Commission designated 28.4 miles of US 59 from the south side of Rosenberg to the 610 loop as part of Interstate 69. This month, signs are being officially planted along the strip of highway to designate it as both I-69 and US 59.
Texas Department of Transportation’s Houston District crews are currently installing the signs. I-69 will ultimately become a 1,600-mile-long highway stretching from Michigan to Texas. The U.S. Congress has already designated three highway segments in South Texas as equal parts of the I-69 Priority Corridor: US 77 route from Brownsville to Victoria, the US 281 route north from McAllen and the US 59 route from Texarkana to Victoria.
Moody's downgrades the ratings on SH 130 Concession Company Senior and TIFIA loans to B1
Global Credit Research - 12 Apr 2013
Downgrade affects $1.1 billion of outstanding debt
New York, April 12, 2013 -- Moody's Investors Service has concluded the review period for the ratings of the SH 130 Concession Company. The rating on the Senior Bank Facility, which has $686 million outstanding have been downgraded to B1 from Baa3. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan, which has $451 million outstanding to B1 from Ba1. The outlook on both ratings is negative.
More on NTTA driver’s $30,000 debt to the NTTA, this time from her lawyer
By Rodger Jones/Editorial Writer
Dallas Morning News
April 19, 2013
I have heard from a lawyer hired by a woman I’ve written about who was stressed out about a $30,000 debt to the NTTA. She admits to having been out there using the roads while still owing money. At the same time, her beef is figuring out how to deal with the agency and negotiating a settlement — as many do — about the add-on fees.
I asked the woman’s attorney, Thomas S. Howery, to boil his perspective down for me in an email, which follows. The questions he raises are timely, since the Legislature is in the process of passing bills that strengthens NTTA’s hand in dealing with scofflaws.
Actually this article makes it sound as though we'd be getting a portion of our existing vehicle sales tax dedicated to build free roads, but actually the Governor's plan is to use that TAX money to leverage more toll road debt. So they'll build the road with some of our tax money, but still charge us tolls to drive on it.
So if the Governor gets his way, he'll take the most promising pot of money we have to build free roads and get back to pay as you go and hijack it to build more toll roads and issue heaps more DEBT! Perry now advocates century bonds that will take 100 years to pay-off - well beyond the useful life of the road. He thinks we can 'manage' all this debt. But it's unsustainable. Under Perry, the state has amassed $31 billion in principle & interest in just the last 8 years maxing out the borrowing against future gas taxes and even dipping into general revenue to back bonds. Imagine what Perry would do with a new revenue stream!
Perry Backs Dedicated Car Sales Taxes for Highway Fund
By Aman Batheja
April 12, 2013
Gov. Rick Perry on Friday came out in support of dedicating a portion of future sales tax revenue from car sales to the state’s highway fund, while also leaving the door open to spending more of the Rainy Day Fund on infrastructure projects that he had proposed three months ago.
“With the rapid growth of our population and our healthy economy, the amount we take on in those sales is increasing steadily,” Perry said during a keynote speech in Austin at a transportation infrastructure conference hosted by the Texas Lyceum. “I propose that we dedicate the future growth of sales tax collected on motor vehicles to transportation infrastructure.”
President's budget strong on transportation, with a catch
By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
April 11, 2013
President Obama’s proposed budget shows the administration’s commitment to funding transportation and infrastructure. But while the numbers look good for roads and bridges over the short term, critics say the document lacks a long-term funding solution and gets off track in areas such as sharing highway money with rail and expanding the cross-border trucking program.
Traditionally, a presidential budget request is a wish list, and the one President Obama delivered on Wednesday, April 10, is no exception. The wish list calls for an immediate $50 billion in upfront spending for structurally deficient bridges and other needs.
- CA toll roads $1.7 billion in red ink
- PA turnpike corruption worst case ever
- Ordinary Americans hurt by P3s
- Toll roads are double taxation
- Cintra’s credit woes, speed limit hike adjacent to toll road spell trouble
- Broken promises? Texas lawmakers fail to end gas tax diversions
- TxDOT lowers truck tolls, increases speeds on free route
- Default coming? Cintra's SH 130 may receive credit downgrade
- Rail plan of Trans Texas Corridor lives on
- Senator warns of 'fiscal cliff' on transportation funding in Texas
- Buy out of SH 130 tollway could make it a freeway
- Washington voters eliminate new toll roads, unelected boards raising toll rates
- Texans say 'No' to more tolls, road debt
- Texans ask for leadership to enact NEW vision for road policy
- When all else fails in the Texas legislature - toll, toll, toll
- MoPac toll project bid comes in under estimates
- Cintra's concession fees go to feeder roads to SH 130
- Texas DMV selling driver's personal information
- Stealing from Peter to pay Paul? Toll Authority buoys Harris County from rising healthcare costs
- Eminent domain abuse: Soccer field owner fights off horse park
- Republicans try to sell Texas Capitol to developers for commercial development
- The wave is coming: Trade and debt will overwhelm Texas absent new funding
- Video nails lawmakers with road debt, presses them to stop tolls
- Washington citizens seek ballot measure to ban freeway tolls
- TxDOT tells lawmakers of funding crisis
- U.S. building more highways, letting old ones crumble
- Virginia's 495 Express Lanes attracting much less traffic than needed
- Perry calls for end to diversions, Rainy Day raid for roads
- Transportation chairmen want existing vehicle sales taxes to boost road funding
- Lawmakers mull tax on electric cars
- Alamo toll agency lays off nearly all its workers
- Boycott success? TxDOT keeps Cintra's early traffic data on SH 130 secret
- Victory: Ohioans reject sale of Ohio Turnpike
- TxDOT says it needs $4 billion more for roads
- State leaders taking Texas off fiscal cliff with road debt
- Street car draws criticism in Virginia
- Orange County toll system falling short of paying its debt
- Brits face threat of yet more toll roads
- Priorities for the 83rd Texas Legislature
- Virginia governor proposes repeal of gas tax
- Austin toll authority manages to hit age 10 despite opposition
- NTTA wants ability to seize cars for failure to pay tolls
- Toll authority wants its own courts, power to jail
- North Texas bureaucrats drive transportation-toll regime
- Highway Robbery: How P3s extract private profits from public infrastructure
- Houston toll system an unaccountable slush fund
- Cintra snags P3 for Hwy 460 toll project in Virginia
- Austin tollways require double taxation to be profitable
- Oregon officials eye road use tax on hybrid, electric cars
- Editorial: Lawmakers must get serious about funding transportation
- Putting lipstick on the P3 pig - 'availability payments'
- Loop 1604 could be handed to private toll operator for 50 years
- TX lawmakers vote to sell-off 20 roads to private entities
- Highway Trust Fund needs to be cut 92%?
- VA Residents protest toll lanes on I-395
- Reasons to be wary of public private partnerships
- Legislators pass law to use property tax to build TOLL roads
- Trans Texas Corridor update: Hwy 59 gets I-69 designation
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