In a brazen insult to the leaders of his own party, Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff hurled below the belt comments at Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lt Governor Dan Patrick for keeping their campaign promise to pull the plug on tolls.
Below are the relevant outrageous comments from Wolff, followed by more comments where Wolff portrays himself as a statesman for shoving tolls down constituents throats despite their persistent opposition to the unacountable new taxes, and accuses the governor and lt gov of being political puppets. Railroading unwanted taxes upon voters without their consent isn't statesmanlike, it's being a bully sold out to rent-seeking special interests who want a government-sanctioned monopoly to make Texas commuters their own personal ATM machines. Reducing the tax burden on working families and keeping promises to voters is a whole lot tougher than taking the easy way out by ratcheting up spending, increasing taxes, and handing out the public's money to well-connected cronies and special interests in multi-billion toll road deals.
Apparently, he suffers memory loss in addition to substance abuse. Wolff says here that, “If they want to sit in Austin and decide that toll roads can’t be used, then they better damn well offer us another tool that will accomplish the same thing." Passage of Prop 1 in 2014 and Prop 7 in 2015 was designed to supply additional funding precisely so that policy makers could replace tolls. Wolff knows it. He pushed for passage of both. In fact, the last time Wolff ran for re-election he bragged that he removed tolls from the expansion plans for US 281 (in response to the public opposition after pushing tolls for more than a decade). So his 'blistering' comments aimed at the Governor and Lt Gov. are strictly political, not 'statesmanlike.'
A true statesman, retiered engineer and successful businesman Don Dixon, supplies a well written repsonse below the story.
Highway panel dumps planned I-35 toll lanes
By Bruce Selcraig
December 15, 2017
A state transportation panel has dropped a plan to eventually add a pair of toll lanes to Interstate 35 from San Antonio to Austin, removing it and every other proposed tollway from its 10-year, $70 billion outline of 15 major road projects.
The stretch of I-35 in Central Texas is annually listed among the most congested in the nation. The 5-0 vote Thursday by the Texas Transportation Commission illustrated how the state’s political system continues to eliminate options to deal with it, observers said.
The decision, made at the behest of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, received a blistering rebuke Friday from Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff, a fellow Republican.
“Our governor and lieutenant governor are not the sharpest tools in the shed when it comes to transportation,” said Wolff, who chairs the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which allocates billions of dollars in state and federal funds for local highway projects.
“If they want to sit in Austin and decide that toll roads can’t be used, then they better damn well offer us another tool that will accomplish the same thing. I don’t like toll roads … but this just guarantees more gridlock. Doing nothing is not acceptable.”
Read the rest of the story here.
Later comes the bragging by Wolff:
"He accused Abbott and Patrick of pandering to their political base. 'Politics is the business of making easy decisions,' Wolff said. 'Statesmanship is the art of making tough decisions.'”
Op/Ed submitted to Express-News:
In response to San Antonio Express-News article 'Highway panel dumps planned I-35 toll lanes,' and Kevin Wolff's 'blistering rebuke' that Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick are not the 'sharpest' when it comes to roads, let's start with the fact that for 80 years Texas had the best public roads in the United States -- debt free and toll free. Then, Governor Rick Perry put in the debt-toll model for state roads, and debt sky rocketed to $81 billion dollars, and confiscatory toll taxes of $.20 cents to $1 dollar per mile instead of the approximately $.01 cent per mile gas tax to use a free public road.
Governor Greg Abbott's action in killing more toll roads was just following through with the sound road policy he promised the taxpayers when he ran for office. So most certainly he knows that low taxes and no debt on roads is the best for Texans and Texas business, which is a stark contrast to Kevin Wolff's rebuke that Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick are not the 'sharpest' on roads.
Most everyone knows that tolls and debt are unacceptable in San Antonio for it would hurt our top two economies of tourism and military. Toll taxes are confiscatory and a double tax. They are a terrible hassle for a public that demands a freely accessible public road system. Wiser heads like the Governor and Lt. Governor knew that continuing former Governor Perry's debt-toll method was not affordable and sustainable due to the $81 billion dollar road debt that he built up, as well as high toll taxes. Pay-as-you-go free roads, which Texas had in place for 80 years, was by far the best road system. Conservatives have supported pay-as-you-go road funding for years, and Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick were elected based on that message and they got them doen with passage of Prop 7. Together with Prop 1, this is the largest infusion of new road funding in a generation.
Now the toll taxes need to come off toll roads instead of adding more debt and toll taxes that never come off. The Texas State Highway Department needs to take a strong stand and rid the state of the mini-TxDOT toll road bureaucracies, known as Regional Mobility Authorities, by not giving them gas tax road money to build more toll roads. Let's return the state to a low tax, freely accessible public road system. Freely accessible public roads are good for freedom, good for Texans, and good for Texas business. It was a great day for Texas.
A big thank you, Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick!
Don P. Dixon
San Antonio, TX