Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"The Texas Senate protects big money special interests and the private profits of foreign corporations instead of guarding the public interest..."

Death knell of road privatization?

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Texas Attorney General hesitates to sell-off highways to foreign corporations


Terri Hall
San Antonio Express-News
Copyright 2009

Friday, Texans learned that Attorney General Greg Abbott refused to sign-off on the first of two contracts called Comprehensive Development Agreements (or CDAs, also known as public private partnerships or PPPs) for toll projects that would hand control over two Texas highways in North Texas to a foreign corporation from Spain.

This is GREAT news for all Texans! Texans of all stripes have put-up stiff opposition to CDAs that sell-off Texas highways to the highest bidder and effectively take-out a second mortgage on our highway system. The Legislature sent a CDA moratorium to the Governor by a combined vote of 169-5 in 2007, but the BIG MONEY sprung into action to end the moratorium this session, so far, to no avail.

CDAs mean the loss of control over our public infrastructure in sweetheart deals that last for a half century at a time. They include non-compete agreements that forbid or financially penalize the highway department for building any "competing" free roads surrounding the toll road (ensuring congestion on the free lanes), guaranteed profits for a half century at a time, massive public subsidies (resulting in double and triple taxation), and multi-generational debt.

Abbott revealed taxpayers will sink $1 billion in public money into these deals only to be taxed 75 cents a MILE ($3,000 a year on average) in tolls to a foreign company to drive their own public highways. Thomas Jefferson repudiated such multi-generational debt and knew it would destroy our Republic declaring, "No generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence."

Abbott essentially said the same calling the CDA for the Tarrant I-820 toll project with Cintra of Spain unconstitutional, because "the Texas Constitution says that one Legislature cannot financially bind a future Legislature." Indeed, one generation should not bind another with its debts. Our children and grandchildren will surely curse us to their graves.

According to Bloomberg, the current financial crisis has exploded the national debt from $10 trillion to $19.7 trillion and there is deep American dissatisfaction with the massive federal debt that will bind multiple generations with this generation's indulgences is what is referred to as perpetual debt, a debt that cannot be repaid.

Kudos to Abbott for refusing to saddle future generations of Texans with such gross fiscal malfeasance. Abbott's hesitation explains why the Senate tried, unsuccessfully, to remove the Attorney General from signing-off on the "legal sufficiency" of CDAs. The Texas Senate needs to be taken to the woodshed for protecting the BIG MONEY special interests and the private profits of foreign corporations instead of acting as the guardians of the public interest as they're elected to do.

CDAs will sunset August 31. Texans will be watching the special session with fierce interest to ensure Governor Perry doesn't attempt to re-authorize these private toll contracts for his cronies who have stuffed his campaign coffers anticipating their quid pro quos.

Will Abbott's refusal to sign be the death knell of CDAs in Texas? If Texans are vigilant, the answer is yes.

Read more about the horrific financial pitfalls of CDAs/PPPs [HERE].

Terri Hall, a homeschool mom of seven turned citizen activist, is the founder of the San Antonio Toll Party and Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom. Learn more about Terri Hall.

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