Thursday, October 13, 2005

"It is imperative that Texans recognize the truth and vote-down Propositions 1 & 9 with a vengeance."

If you want to pay costly infinite tolls on Texas roadways, then vote FOR Propositions 1 & 9

Oct 12, 2005

By Peter Stern
North Texas eNews
Copyright 2005

Despite the fact that most Texans don't want toll roads, the "brain-child" of Gov. Rick Perry, alias, "The Trans-Texas Toll Corridor" is being pushed onto Texas families swiftly and quietly via the next election's Propositions 1 & 9. Unless voters get out there and vote-down these two propositions, Perry's "dream" will become the "nightmare" of our children's children --- generations of future Texans will pay endless toll taxes.

Proposition 1 is a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot that would establish a fund through which taxpayers would help pay for relocating freight rail lines from congested urban areas. Hailed by the governor and proponents as a needed safety measure and for easing traffic congestion in and around Texas cities, in truth it is a special interest power-play to add new taxes under a GOP platform of "No New Taxes".

In addition, Proposition 1 includes no predefined funding and doesn't specify how much should be set aside for the effort. If voters approve the amendment, the legislature would have to provide initial funding in 2007. The rail proposition ties into The Trans-Texas Corridor plan, Perry's long-range proposal for a "dedicated transportation network" stretching across Texas.

Perry's agreements with the railroads, however, didn't say how the relocations, which could cost untold millions of dollars, would be paid for, except that the agreement with Union Pacific ruled out additional taxes or fees on the railroad industry. Railroad companies are known wealthy special interest contributors to Perry's campaign efforts. Proposition 1 is NOT in the best interests of most Texas families.

Proposition 9 actually was proposed and approved during the previous legislative session that authorized the legislature to increase the term for board members of a Regional Mobility Authority from two years to six years. The Texas Supreme Court recently declared the approved legislation unconstitutional; consequently, Proposition 9 is really "an end around run" by special interests to ensure a pro-toll longer term membership on RMA's.

Instead of toll taxing Texans, gasoline taxes are supposed to go into a fund used for building and maintaining our roadways. For the past decade the Texas gasoline tax has been frozen at the same rate. In addition, a large part of the collected gas taxes is diverted to higher education institutions. The governor and legislators have ensured that the large percentage of gas taxes channels to higher education institutions despite the fact that recent legislation was approved to deregulate tuition costs of higher education. By the way, as soon as deregulation became law, tuition costs have continued to increase, yet the large chunk of collected gasoline taxes still is provided to higher education.

Furthermore, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is "sitting on" taxes already paid by Texans. Instead of building, maintaining and improving roadways with those dollars, TxDOT has been ordered by the governor to find alternate "creative approaches" to develop the financing for new roadways, namely, Perry's desire for Texas Toll Corridors. TxDOT is hoping that the ongoing deterioration of well-traveled roads along with increasing traffic congestion will push most Texans to agree to toll roads. Proposition 9 is NOT in the best interests of most Texas families.

In conclusion, regarding Propositions 1 & 9, the governor and pro-toll advocates are hoping and trusting for a small voter turnout and that the majority of voters on November 8th will not see the "veiled back-door" propositions for what they are --- a massive push by special interests to bolster a lock-in on toll roads designed to push-through additional future toll road legislation. Consequently, it is imperative that Texans recognize the truth and vote-down Propositions 1 & 9 with a vengeance unless they want infinite open-ended toll road taxes for our children's children.

Peter Stern

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