"There's still the audit report on August or September on top of everything else."
by Sito Negron
The report, released yesterday, calls for replacing the Texas Transportation Commission with a commission and a four-year period of legislative oversight to regain trust for the transportation agency, known as TxDOT.
The Texas Department of Transportation should be abolished and replaced by a commissioner serving under the "conservatorship" of the state legislature, the staff report to the state's Sunset Advisory Commission states.
The report, released yesterday, calls for a four-year period of legislative oversight to regain trust for the transportation agency, known as TxDOT. An "atmosphere of distrust permeated most of TxDOT's actions and determined that it could not be an effective state transportation agency if trust and confidence were not restored. Significant changes are needed to begin this restoration; tweaking the status quo is simply not enough," the report states.
The Sunset Advisory Commission will begin hearings on the report in July.
Ted Houghton, an El Pasoan on the Texas Transportation Commission, said he still was digesting the report.
"We're going to respond to the report as a commission," he said. "I think it's going to be a few days before we get back on the response, it won't happen immediately, but we shall respond."
Houghton said that he wasn't surprised at the report.
"I think in the last legislative session there was significant angst toward the Department of Transportation," he said. "It doesn’t hurt to look under the hood, check things out and see what happens."
State Rep. Joe Pickett, who often has been at odds with Houghton and has been a fierce critic of TxDOT, said that he was a bit surprised at the core recommendation, but not by the tone of the report.
"I'm kind of surprised they suggested doing away with the commission," Pickett said. But, he added, "I've been telling everybody that for months that it's going to be big."
Pickett said that there's still more to come for the embattled agency. "There's still the audit report on August or September on top of everything else," he said.
Pickett also said that he has been meeting with a group of legislators -- informally -- to come up with a transportation strategy. He said the group has dubbed itself the Legislative Transportation Study Group.
"It's unofficial, hasn’t been sanctioned by speaker or anybody," Pickett said. "But it's a bipartisan group of Republicans, Democrats, rural, urban … we'll try to have a game plan, we will have a game plan by the time we get there in January."
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