Monday, May 30, 2005

HB 2702

The “agreement” on HB 2702 is classic end of session politicking: Resurrected transportation legislation passes Senate. Thought to be dead several times, it was just too important to let die, or so it appears. This appears to be the meat of what was accomplished by this bill:
But it also dramatically raises the ceiling for how much gas tax money the state can use on toll roads, essentially allowing all of the allocation for metropolitan areas to go to turnpikes. For toll roads other than those in the Trans-Texas Corridor, it specifically allows the state to acquire private land and then build hotels, restaurants and other commercial facilities on that land.

HB 2702, requires private operators of state-owned toll roads to get approval of their "methodology" for setting toll rates. But it does not require the Texas Transportation Commission to approve the actual rates.

"In other states, having the commission come back every time there needs to be a change in toll rates has been problematic," (Problematic for who?) said state Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, the House sponsor of the legislation. "Because of that history (What history?), the bond market has been very wary of getting involved in a project where a political body has to set every rate."
I see. If a rate hike were subject to the will of the people that would be problematic because it would make the bond market wary. Now I get it! Also, the the private operators get to set the toll rate with only the “methodology” having to be approved by the Transportation Commission. That's the same thing, right? As with Rep. Krusee's MO, you can see that the main objective is making sure that taxpayer money goes to building toll roads run by “private operators” and that there is as little government oversight as possible.

Doesn't it just make you go "Hmmmm...."?


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