Friday, January 30, 2009

"TxDOT is in for a shake-up."

Rep. Hughes: "...Abuses Like The Trans Texas Corridor Must Be Stopped"

Never shy about tackling an issue head on, Texas District 5 Representative Bryan Hughes lists his top priorities for the current legislative session.


The Upshur Advocate
Copyright 2009

AUSTIN, TX-- If Rep. Bryan Hughes has his way, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is in for a shake-up.

The Advocate asked Hughes to detail his agenda for the current 81st Legislative session, and he listed fiscal responsibility, education and transportation as his top three items of focus.

On transportation, he noted that along with 26 other agencies, a sunset review of TxDOT was due. The reviews are conducted by the legislature to determine whether agencies should continue to be funded, be abolished, or be reformed.

Regarding the review of TxDOT, Hughes said " of the most hotly contested agency reviews will be of the Texas Department of Transportation. As we review every aspect of TxDOT's operations, my focus will be on providing quality roads while respecting private property rights."

It will be interesting to see if Hughes finds a friend in Governor Perry on that issue. Perry, a strong supporter of the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC), has also highlighted protecting Texas property owners from eminent domain abuse as a focus of this year's session.

TxDOT recently said the TTC project was dead, but announced intentions to move ahead on the concept by breaking it into smaller pieces. Landowner advocates, budget hawks and environmental groups have waged a pitched battle against the project since it's inception.

Regarding that, Hughes went on to say "Our roads should never be sold to foreign companies, and abuses like the Trans Texas Corridor must be stopped. I also support requiring greater transparency at TxDOT, so taxpayers know exactly what road projects cost and the justification for each project."

On Fiscal Responsibility:
"The Comptroller recently announced that the State would have about $9 billion less in revenue than we had two years ago. This means we have to find a way to provide critical services (such as) education, transportation, public safety, human services, to Texans, with less money.

"There are some in the Legislature that would like to make up this gap with increased taxes. I feel strongly that now is not the time to be increasing taxes on Texas families and the Legislature should cut wasteful spending and use tax dollars wisely, cut, simply and reform taxes so that Texas families can keep more of what they earn and businesses can create new jobs, return surplus tax revenues to taxpayers, and spend dedicated funds on their intended purpose.

"Six years ago, the State faced similar budget problems, and we correctly balanced the budget without raising taxes. We can and must do that again."

On Education:
"Texas should be a leader in public education. We will focus our efforts on driving more of our tax dollars into the classroom and away from administrative overhead.

"The Legislature will also look at ways to increase accountability for school districts. We want to reward and recognize when our schools improve student performance. In addition to academic performance, there will be efforts to look at a school district's fiscal health and financial management practices in measuring a school district's overall performance."

Hughes closed by saying "I will also be working on making health care more affordable for Texas families, doing everything in the State's power to secure our border with Mexico, and protecting our State's natural resources and energy supplies."

The Advocate will be asking Hughes for updates throughout the year. Readers are encouraged to post questions and concerns, and we'll include them in our questioning.

© 2009 The Upshur Advocate:

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