Friday, August 14, 2009

Hutchison: “I am going to focus on transportation and not as a top-down dictatorship from TxDOT."

Hutchison says 15 years too long for Gov. Perry


by Glynis Crawford Smith
The Burnet Bulletin
Copyright 2009

Speaking to a crowd of about 200 people in Horseshoe Bay Thursday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison lambasted Gov. Rick Perry on almost every aspect of government as she laid the groundwork for her own campaign for the office.

“Fifteen years is too long to be governor,” she said, “Having every board and commission appointed by one person is not good for the state.

“It creates loyalty and fealty to the governor and not the state.”

Hutchinson said education was her number one concern for Texas and she would like to see property taxes taken out of the public school equation. The property of Horseshoe Bay has been one of the biggest factors in turning local school districts into “property rich” districts when it comes to returning money to other districts through Chapter 41 or “Robin Hood” legislation.

Asked her opinion of a system to achieve equalization of Texas school funding, Hutchison said she wanted property taxes appraised, tax rates set and taxes collected, all at the local level.

“That means we will have to come up with $3 to $5 billion that now goes toward equalization and put that at the state level,” said the former Texas state treasurer. “That is my goal.

“We have not had, since Robin Hood was put in place, a governor that has tried to make Robin Hood temporary, which is what it was supposed to be 20 years ago.”

Undaunted by funding problems, Hutchison said she was staunchly in favor of education in Texas that is not kindergarten through 12th grade, but pre-kindergarten through 14.

“We should have as our goal to encourage every child to go to college, but if they are not going to go, they should have at least have a community college degree or certification that gives them the good jobs,” she said.

Reminded that districts like the Marble Falls Independent School District would find schools immediately filled with a mandate for so much as pre-kindergarten, she drew the line at mandates, especially federal mandates, and promised prospective voters that she would expand her ideas as her campaign progresses.

Transportation was second on Hutchison’s list of priorities for the state.

When asked about diverting the gas tax from road construction, she said, “I am going to focus on transportation and not as a top-down dictatorship from TxDOT.

“The Texas Department of Transportation is the most arrogant state agency in the history of America. I want to expand the highway commission so there is more representation from all over the state and multilevel planning.”

She said unequivocally that she was against tolling highways that are already built and in favor of ensuring private property rights.

“That would include lost access,” she said. The Trans-Texas corridor is the biggest land grab in the history of our state.

“It would see a half million acres of land given to a foreign company to put in a toll road that would not have allowed any private ownership on the access roads and that would have kept local governments from building highways or even increasing speed limits nearby.

Third on Hutchison’s list of priorities was healthcare and she said she planned to stay in the Senate as long as possible to promote “carrots” or incentives to create healthcare options rather that “sticks” or fines for business owners to provide them. As in all cases, she put the concerns of businessmen first.

“We are the best because we had visionary leaders in the past that put Texas in the position to be pro-business,” said Hutchison. “The economic engine of America is business and we understand that in Texas.”

She listed the state’s lack of a personal income tax and its status as a right to work state as a protection of business and again criticized Perry when it came to a business margin tax.

“(Margin tax) is the largest tax increase in more than 20 years and it is a tax you will pay even if you don’t make a profit.”

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