"Rick Perry. Slippery Conditions [still] Ahead"
by Reeve Hamilton
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's campaign latest ad takes to the air today. They are calling it "Cha-Ching."
The ad continues to hit her rival, Gov. Rick Perry, on transportation — specifically the issue of tolling roads for the benefit of foreign companies.
On conversions of a state roads to a toll roads, Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) spokesman Christopher Lippincott had this to say : "It has never occurred. The Texas Transportation Commission rejected the concept formally in May 2008."
"Can we do it legally? Sure," he says. "Have we? No. Will we? We have no plans to do so, and the Commission has told us they’re not interested."
Here's the script and the campaign's sourcing:
CHYRON: “This is not a European road. Yet. Rick Perry tried to seize private land and toll existing roads. So a foreign company could collect tolls, too.”
- The Bill That Created The Trans-Texas Corridor Included A Provision That “Allowed Existing Highways To Be Converted Into Toll Roads.” “In that first session as chairman, [State Rep. Mike] Krusee carried House Bill 3588, a huge measure that created a framework for Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor plan for cross-state supertollways, gave power and money to newly created local toll agencies, and allowed existing highways to be converted into toll roads.” (Laylan Copelin and Ben Wear, “Krusee To Leave At End Of Term,” Austin American-Statesman, 11/28/07)
- HB 3588 Was Signed Into Law By Rick Perry On June 22, 2003. (Texas State Legislature Online, www.legis.state.tx.us, Accessed 1/4/10)
- HB 3588 Allowed For The Texas Transportation Commission To Convert A Free Highway Into A Toll Road And Transfer It To A Private Authority. (H.B. 3588, Text Of Bill As Enrolled, www.legis.state.tx.us, Accessed 1/4/10)
- Shortly After HB 3588 Became Law, “Its Sweeping Effects Became Obvious … As Central Texans Fought Attempts To Toll A Portion Of U.S. 183 That Was Close To Opening As A Free Road.” “The bill [HB 3588] was passed overwhelmingly in relative obscurity because of legislative focus elsewhere. But its sweeping effects became obvious within months as Central Texans fought attempts to toll a portion of U.S. 183 that was close to opening as a free road. Introduction in early 2004 of a seven-tollway plan in Central Texas, which would come on top of five other toll roads already under construction or nearing it, caused an uproar.” (Laylan Copelin and Ben Wear, “Krusee To Leave At End Of Term,” Austin American-Statesman, 11/28/07)
- Senate Research Center: “Current Law Authorizes The Texas Department Of Transportation (TxDOT) To Convert An Existing Non-Tolled State Highway Or Segment Of A Highway Into A Toll Road.” “Current law authorizes the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to convert an existing non-tolled state highway or segment of a highway into a toll road, if the county commissioners court in which the road exists consents and the conversion is approved by the voters of the affected county or municipality.” (Senate Research Center, Bill Analysis Of SB 220, www.legis.state.tx.us, 3/19/09)
- Perry’s “Trans-Texas Corridor Tollway … Was To Be Built And Owned In Part By A Foreign Company.” “Texans never bought into Perry’s idea for the $200 billion Trans-Texas Corridor tollway. It was too expensive, too expansive, ate up too much private land, split family farms and ranches, and was to be built and owned in part by a foreign company that would reap the toll revenues.” (Editorial, “The Trans-Texas Dead End,” Austin American-Statesman, 1/9/09)
- TxDOT’s Contract With Spanish-Owned Cintra Would Have Allowed The Company To Collect And Keep Tolls On TTC Roads For 50 Years. “Three years after the Trans-Texas Corridor was proposed, state officials and private-sector partners have agreed to build the first leg of toll roads. … The contract formalizes the relationship between the state and Cintra Zachry, which in December agreed to build the 316-mile leg of the Trans-Texas Corridor with private funds in exchange for the right to collect and keep tolls for 50 years.” (Gordon Dickson, “Contract Signed For Toll Road,” Fort Worth Star Telegram, 3/12/05)
- Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor Would Require The Government Seizure Of Nearly 600,000 Acres Of Private Property. “TTC also could require the state to acquire nearly 600,000 acres of private land, much from farmers and ranchers.” (Michael Graczyk, “Public Meetings Air Worries About Giant Texas Highway Project,” The Associated Press, 1/17/08)
- Lands Seized Could Have Included “Homes, Churches, Schools, Businesses, Ranchland, And Farmlands.” “Conservative Republicans are opposed to the idea that a foreign company will be given carte blanche to raze homes, churches, schools, businesses, ranchland, and farmlands for private toll roads that will be cash cows for the next 50 years or so.” (“Perry Scope,” Texas Observer, 9/8/06)
- Before Joining Perry’s Staff As Legislative Director, Dan Shelley Worked For Cintra Up Until 3 Months Before The Company Was Selected For The $7.2 Billion Trans-Texas Corridor Project. “A top aide to Gov. Rick Perry worked for a Spanish company until three months before the company was picked for a $7.2 billion state road project.” (Pete Slover and Tony Hartzel, “Perry Aide Worked For Corridor Firm,” The Dallas Morning News, 12/29/04)
- Shelley Lobbied TxDOT Officials On Behalf Of Cintra Numerous Times Before Joining Perry’s Office. “A former lobbyist [Dan Shelley] who is now a top adviser to Gov. Rick Perry met at least five times with state transportation officials on behalf of a Spanish construction company months before it won a multibillion dollar road deal, state records show. … Mr. Shelley began consulting for Cintra a year ago, working on a contingency that paid him solely based on how much business Cintra secured in Texas, the governor’s office said.” (Pete Slover and Tony Hartzel, “Aide’s Role For Cintra Disputed,” The Dallas Morning News, 12/31/04)
- While Shelley Was On The Governor’s Payroll, Cintra Was Awarded The Massive Contract To Build The Trans-Texas Corridor. “Lobbyist Dan Shelley worked for the firm [Cintra] as a consultant just before he went to the governor's office, a connection first revealed in 2004. State officials denied any connection between that circumstance and the decision, three months later, to award Cintra the huge highway contract.” (Pete Slover and Tony Hartzel, “Trans-Texas Firm Hires Ex-Perry Aide,” The Dallas Morning News, 8/18/06)
- In September 2005, Shelley Left Perry’s Office; Shortly Thereafter He Signed A Lucrative Lobbying Contract With Cintra. “Once again, Gov. Rick Perry's former liaison to the Legislature is working for the Spanish company that won the rights to develop the $7 billion Trans-Texas Corridor. … [M]r. Shelley has left the governor's office, and he and his daughter have large contracts to lobby for the road builder. … Mr. Shelley resigned his state job in September and struck a lobbying deal with Cintra worth between $50,000 and $100,000 to work from March through the end of this year. In addition, his daughter and lobbying partner, Jennifer Shelley-Rodriguez, will earn between $25,000 and $50,000 from the company over the same period, state records show.” (Pete Slover and Tony Hartzel, “Trans-Texas Firm Hires Ex-Perry Aide,” The Dallas Morning News, 8/18/06)
- The Trans-Texas Corridor “Is Still Officially Alive In Statute.” “The Trans-Texas Corridor, Perry’s 4,000-mile dream of tollways and rail lines cross-hatching the state, has been pronounced dead several times, but is still officially alive in statute. It was scheduled to be scuttled in the TxDOT sunset bill, but the bill died instead.” (Ben Wear, “Probing The Pileup For Transportation News This Session,” Austin American-Statesman, 6/8/09)
- The Dallas Morning News’ Colleen McCain Nelson: “[A] Lot Of People Have Said The Trans-Texas Corridor Isn’t Dead Until Rick Perry Isn’t Governor, And So I Wouldn’t Completely Rule Out The Possibility That This Could Be Reincarnated In Some Modified Form If Perry Is Still Indeed Governor.” (WFAA's “Inside Texas Politics,” 10/11/09)
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