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Dan Patrick

  • Abbott, Patrick tame rogue highway department, scrap toll projects
    By Terri Hall
    November 17, 2017

    It’s not very often that the lowly taxpayer gets a win this big, but it finally came. After 12 years of wrangling over toll roads, Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick came to the rescue issuing a final decree ending toll roads in Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) ignited a taxpayer revolt when it proposed 15 new toll projects as part of the update to its ten year plan — the Unified Transportation Plan (UTP). Not only did TxDOT try to railroad a litany of toll projects, it adopted a plan to use Prop 1 and Prop 7 funds that are constitutionally protected from going to toll projects to finance the US 183 toll project in Austin.

    Abbott campaigned on the promise of fixing Texas roads without raising taxes, fees, debt or tolls. He reiterated his position in his first State of the State address in 2015 as well as when he announced his Texas Clear Lanes initiative that was to focus funding on the state’s most congested roads.
  • Link to article here.

    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
    Staff Writer
    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.”

  • Article posted in Empower Texans Scorecard here.

    Sneaky SH 130 Expansion Defies Abbott/Patrick Pledge

    New toll lanes deceptively approved for SH 130
    By JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director, Grassroots America – We the People PAC and
    Terri Hall, Founder/Director, Texans for Toll-Free Highways PAC
    May 2, 2018
    Empower Texans Scorecard

    Here we go again! Another toll road expansion gets to hopscotch ahead of the state’s major congestion priorities such as I-35 in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. The Texas Transportation Commission just approved spending $36.7 million in toll revenues to add another toll lane to the state operated section of SH 130 from SH 45N to Hwy 290 (the southern 41 miles is operated by a private corporation that emerged the winner in bankruptcy courtdespite the promise it would return to the public if it went bankrupt).  More broken bureaucratic promises – shocking, right?

    Buried in the commission agenda was a nebulous, generalized agenda item 3(a): ‘The construction of highways and other transportation facilities’ (see attached itemized list). After searching through 21 pages of projects, the Commission expects the public to discern what’s going on when it gives no project description and merely lists how much money the Commission is approving for each project. The word ‘toll’ is nowhere to be found, unlike past Commission agendas that clearly delineate toll projects under separate agenda items and have a specific minute order with detailed information about the project and the origin of the funds.
  • Link to article here.

    Lawmakers clash with toll bureaucracies over cap on toll fines

    By Terri Hall
    March 11, 2018
    Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research

    It’s a great day for Texas drivers as a new law takes effect capping the toll fines and fees on some Texas tollways to $48 a year. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion just as the law took effect that said the new law applies to all toll entities, but only under a limited section of the Transportation Code — Chapter 228. This has put toll agencies, like the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), on a collision course with lawmakers over the interpretation of how broadly the law impacts certain toll projects.

    Paxton did assert the new law applies to “an entity operating a toll lane pursuant to Section 228.007(b), Transportation Code,” which brings in every type of toll entity. However, most toll projects are not governed by agreements with TxDOT under Chapter 228, so toll bureaucracies argue the new law, passed as part of SB 312 last year, only applies to a handful of toll projects.