Thursday, February 07, 2008

TxDOT spins revenue shell game

TxDOT responds to Dewhurst's concerns over funding shortfall claims

February 7, 2008

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2008

TxDOT has made public a letter to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who last week demanded to know why the department keeps saying it is broke when the Legislature has given it the okay to borrow billions of dollars for new roads.

The short answer, says interim chairman Hope Andrade of San Antonio, is that more borrowing means bigger debt payments – and the department can’t afford to spend more on debt unless the Legislature gives it money to do so.

Lawmakers have informally assured TxDOT that they will make sure the money to support the borrowing is appropriated during the next session, but TxDOT has yet to adjust its financial plan to count on those extra funds.

Like many others, Mr. Dewhurst had also questioned the accuracy of TxDOT’s claim that the state faces a long-term funding gap for transportation of some $86 billion. The lieutenant governor said other estimates range from $40 billion to $60 billion.

In the letter sent Wednesday, Ms. Andrade said the department is revising its numbers thanks to recommendations by the auditor’s office, but said other, lower estimates have been incomplete surveys of the costs the agency must confront.

Also Online:

Letter: From Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to TxDOT

Letter: From TxDOT to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst

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