"Dewhurst and Craddick also should investigate their own involvement and that of other policy-makers in the state’s transportation funding crisis."
February 23, 2008
An independent audit of the budget disorder in the Texas Department of Transportation is due.
That’s exactly what Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick ordered this week.
The two said it became evident to them following a joint hearing of two Senate committees that the department suffers from “significant weakness and questionable accounting procedures” in financial forecasting and reporting.
The agency admitted a $1.1 billion bookkeeping error that resulted in a Texas-size transportation funding crisis.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee tried to get agency officials to explain how the agency made a billion-dollar mistake that cut off planned highway projects.
The eight-county Waco district, said to state Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, got hit the hardest when compared with others.
The agency already has been hit with a lawsuit filed by toll-road activists over its multimillion- dollar campaign said to violate a state law that prohibits state officers or employees from using their authority for political purposes.
In addition, an investigation could be launched to determine if the agency has been lobbying on behalf of toll roads.
As joint chairmen of the Legislative Audit Committee, Dewhurst and Craddick called for a comprehensive review of the whole mess. Of course, much of the blame rests with lawmakers themselves.
Dewhurst and Craddick also should investigate their own involvement and that of other policy-makers in the state’s transportation funding crisis.
Most Texans think their state gasoline taxes are dedicated for building and maintaining the state’s roads and bridges. What is less known is how lawmakers, who have refused to raise the gasoline tax since 1991, routinely raid transportation funds to help pay for the operation of the Department of Public Safety, the Texas Education Agency and various programs.
When it comes to transportation funding, a lot needs to be investigated.
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