Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hutchison: "A toll road from South Texas to San Antonio, I just don't see the need for that. "

Hutchison swings through area

Senator talks taxes, Iraq, toll roads.

August 17, 2006

By Jason Embry
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2006

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison rolled through Central Texas on a campaign tour Wednesday, lending tangible evidence to the rumor that she's running for re-election this fall.

The Republican senator, of course, announced more than a year ago that she would seek another term Nov. 7. But with a strong electoral track record in a Republican state, she has tried to project the image of a hard-at-work senator more concerned with legislating than campaigning.

"My top priority, and what I will spend most of my time doing, is my job," Hutchison said Wednesday on the second day of a three-day, 16-stop bus tour.

Hutchison is running against Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky and Libertarian Scott Lanier Jameson, but she took some jabs at a controversial highway plan being pitched by GOP rival Gov. Rick Perry.

During a morning stop in San Marcos, she used a quick speech to about 60 people to reiterate support for further federal tax cuts and the war in Iraq. Later, on her campaign bus, she said that she wants to look for better ways to stabilize Iraq but that Congress should not set a deadline for troop withdrawal.

"I want withdrawal but only when the conditions are met and our word is kept," she said. "If we set a deadline, first of all, the insurgency would get worse. And they would know there is a time in which they would have complete free reign, and they would be setting up for their civil war."

Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer, said later that Congress should insist on more information from military leaders, even if it keeps that information secret for security purposes, and should insist on a deadline for troop withdrawal.

"Instead, we have created a situation where Iraq sinks even more deeply into civil war," Radnofsky said. "We've created a perfect breeding ground for Iran and other state sponsors of terror."

Hutchison also said she was "very concerned" about the Trans-Texas Corridor, Gov. Rick Perry's vision for a wide swath of rights of way for toll roads, rail lines and pipelines that would run parallel to the state's major highways.

Hutchison, who considered running against Perry before deciding to seek re-election this year, said she thought some parts of the corridor were needed but questioned others.

"A toll road from South Texas to San Antonio, I just don't see the need for that," she said. "And I think the taking of property for that is a very serious matter that should be studied more carefully."

Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said that early drawings show the corridor stretching from the bottom of Texas to the top of it, and from east to west, but that no routes have been laid out.

"The Trans-Texas Corridor is a long-term plan that would be realized over several decades as population warrants expansion of it," Walt said.; 445-3654

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