To show how far gone Texas is, this is basically already the case in Texas. Once the Legislature authorized these contracts, there were no protections or oversight in place. TxDOT, run by the Governor's appointees, could enter into public private partnerships (called CDAs in Texas) at will, in secret, with NO oversight. In 2007, a moratorium was put in place because of the gross excesses TxDOT engaged in -- signing sweetheart deals for a half century effectively signing away the public's rights to access and use their own public road system unless they can pay 75 cents a mile in tolls, in deals that guarantee free roads remain congested for the life of these contracts using non-compete agreements.
Currently, there are nearly 30 bills to re-authorize these PPP contracts in the Texas Legislature, whether on a limited basis or indefinitely. HB 3789 by Larry Phillips would remove any protections PPPs used to have in place under the moratorium, like having the Attorney General and State Auditor review PPPs prior to them being signed. No elected officials would see the terms of the deal nor ANY member of the public prior to them being signed. Phillips' bill also gives the private corporation control of the surrounding free lanes and the facilities in the public' right of way just like the universally despised Trans Texas Corridor.
Texans beware: your Governor, Rick Perry, wants sole authority, too, and he's already shown what he'll do with that authority...rip-off generations of Texans with these government-sanctioned monopolies that conservative Michelle Malkin calls "corporate welfare."
Bill would remove legislature from toll road equation
Lawmakers' approval would not be required
By Heather Gillers
April 1, 2011
The governor would have the sole authority to create toll roads under a bill that has been quietly advancing through the Indiana legislature.
The measure, which would expire in 2015, is up for a vote in the House Roads and Transportation Committee next week. It passed the Senate 37-12 in February.
"It's that whole thing about striking while the iron is hot," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne.
Private companies are "not going to invest a million bucks into a project and then have to wait for the General Assembly to approve it," he said. "They'll go to a state where they can do it (more expediently)."
For a four-year period, the bill would allow the governor and the Indiana Department of Transportation to launch public-private projects, including creating or converting existing highways to toll roads, without the approval of the legislature. Opponents worry it would shut voters out of government deals with private companies.
In public-private road partnerships, companies typically work with government to build or maintain a road in exchange for some benefit, such as toll collection.
The requirement that lawmakers sign off on such projects was a part of Gov. Mitch Daniels' Major Moves package, approved in 2006. The project marked the beginning of the state's use of public-private partnerships to launch major road developments.
The following year, the Commerce Connector project -- Wyss' push to create a second highway loop around Indianapolis' I-465 -- drew public opposition, and Daniels urged Wyss to pull the proposal rather than put it to a vote in the House.
The idea of the governor making private highway deals without consulting other elected officials troubles Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, who held hearings on the 2007 Commerce Connector proposal. If Wyss' measure had been in effect at that time, she pointed out, the governor could have simply ignored public opposition.
"This would basically remove any General Assembly oversight whatsoever," Austin said. "He just gets to say, 'I want to do that. This is how I want to do it.' "
Under Wyss' bill, any proposal for a public-private road project would get a review -- but not a vote -- by the State Budget Agency, which includes the state budget director and one representative from each of the four caucuses: the House and Senate Republicans and
Democrats. Before that, the proposal would undergo feasibility and economic impact studies, and the public could comment on it in a hearing -- all special requirements for public-private partnerships that lawmakers approved last year.
"All this was done so that none of these projects could be developed in secret," INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield said.
About 30 other states do not require lawmakers' approval for a public-private road project, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some of those states, however, do require approval from a transportation board or commission.
The measure allowing public-private partnerships is tucked into a larger transportation bill, Senate Bill 473, and has mostly escaped public attention. It passed the Senate Feb. 22, the first full day of the House Democrats' walkout.
Wyss said he hopes the House amends out the 2015 expiration date, making the exclusion of legislators from the process permanent. The expiration date was inserted to appease lawmakers who are lukewarm to the measure, he said.