Thursday, October 06, 2005

Texas Governor sued over plan to privatize and toll already tax funded Texas public highways.

Governor Rick Perry Sued

Lawsuit claims Governor Lacks Authority to Privatize and Toll Already Tax-Funded Public Highways

Governor Perry and Metropolitan Planning Organizations are sued. Lawsuit contends constitutional violation under the separation of powers provision.

Austin, TX (PRWEB) October 6, 2005 -- People for Efficient Transportation, Inc. filed a lawsuit today in the District Court of Travis County, on behalf of taxpayers throughout Texas against Governor Rick Perry. The lawsuit takes Gov. Perry to task, as the state's Chief Planning Officer, for allowing unlawful Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to allocate federal dollars, which includes allocating funds for Perry's plan to privatize and toll already tax funded Texas public highways.

Governor Perry has mandated that MPOs shift the publics freeways into tollways across the state; however, the lawsuit claims Perry's MPO simply have no authority whatsoever to dispense funds for such an unpopular and unconstitutional scheme. That includes allocating tax dollars to Gov. Perry's unelected, therefore unaccountable Regional Mobility Authoritys (RMAs) who will set the toll rates for already tax funded public highways. It's important to note that public highways have never been shifted to tollways in the history of the United States.

Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO - ) and San Antonio Metropolitan Planning Organization (SAMPO - ) are also named in the suit as two of the many MPO boards in Texas that allegedly violate the Texas constitution. The constitution clearly states there must be a "separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch", however, the MPOs have legislators, yes, State Representatives and Senators, serving on these administrative boards.

"The Governor has no clothes," said PET officer and founder Sal Costello. "At this moment, a Texas law simply does not exist to allow Rick Perry to complete his plan of converting our public highways to tollways.”

Costello added, "Rick Perry's Double Tax tolling scheme takes existing public highway projects that are fully funded with gas tax dollars, some on the verge of completion, and turns them into toll roads at the last minute. It's a double tax. It's morally and ethically wrong. The Governor is being deceptive when he tells the public that he won't toll existing highways. This deception allows billions of dollars worth of taxpayer-funded roads, and right of way in Texas to be shifted to toll roads, to hold Texas families hostage to pay a toll to drive to work, school or shop. On top of that, he's doing it without following Texas law."

"The first leg of Rick Perry's Trans Texas Corridor (opposed by the Texas Republican Party platform) a 4,000 mile plan of supertollways, was approved by Capital Area MPO in 2000 without the MPO having one statute that allowed it to allocate tax dollars to the 130 Corridor just east of Austin."

Sal Costello continued, "Gov. Perry calls his scheme to toll our already tax funded roads 'innovative financing'. We call it Highway Robbery!"

The lawsuit contends State Representatives and Senators are serving unconstitutionally on MPO boards, State Representative Terry Keel has stated there is "an inherent conflict of interest.”

Backed by outraged taxpayers throughout the state, PET Inc. is suggesting a good government solution for what it calls "the current dysfunctional and unconstitutional MPOs": 1) Dismantle the current MPOs. 2) Replace the current MPOs ( map.htm ) with legal entities composed of seven-member boards serving two year terms. Texas citizens should elect five “at large” seats, the Governor appoints one member, and the local transit organization appoints the seventh member of each regional board.

The Governor is coming under fire from some members of the press who see his scheme as bad for Texas. Rick Perry's "innovative financing" made Texas Monthly's "Top 10 ways to Fix Texas.” The article includes "Stop the toll road menace" at the #2 position. It states, "Turning planned freeways-that’s freeways-into toll roads in urban areas and holding commuters hostage is downright un-American and un-Texan,” Texas Monthly, 8/05.

People for Efficient Transportation, Inc, is a nonpartisan grassroots watchdog organization seeking efficient transportation solutions, good government and accountability. PET is not opposed to traditional toll roads that are designed and built as whole new highways that complement free expressways. Traditional tollways are primarily funded with investor dollars. In contrast, "freeway tolls" are funded with tax dollars to create a revenue-generating machine that does not solve traffic congestion. Freeway tolls shift public highways to tollways and hold drivers hostage to pay a fee to drive to work, school or play.

People for Efficient Transportation, Inc. is represented in this suit by the Texas Legal Foundation and its President and General Counsel, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Steve Smith.

It’s clear where the Perry administration stands on toll roads. The Governor and his appointees want to turn a great many of our highways into tollways. Consider this quote from Ric Williamson who was appointed by Rick Perry to govern TXDOT: “In your lifetime, most existing roads will have tolls.”

Contact: Sal Costello, Founder of PET Inc.
Tel: 512/371-9926
Email: email protected from spam bots

People for Efficient Transportation, Inc.
9901 PO Box 90715
Austin, TX 78709-0715

District Court of Travis County
Case Number: GN 503618

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