Monday, June 06, 2005

Krusee: “The session went from being disastrous to being just fantastic"

Yes, he's talking about the 79th legislative session, but no, his comment doesn't have anything to do with school finance reform or property tax reform. The reason he said that is because at the 11th hour of the session, HB 2702 was passed into law. It has to do with making the bad bill from the last session, the bill which created the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC), marginally better. The above quote and others (such as: “TxDOT is as happy as can be,” Krusee said--and we know that this session was all about making TxDoT happy!) come from this article from last Friday: Toll-Speed Ahead. The article goes a long way around to say that, basically, any new highway built in Texas will be a toll road, and that no one of any consequence in the legislature has a problem with that because the only way around ridding us of this regressive tax (toll roads) is to institute another regressive tax (raising the gas tax). And so you see, either way, the poor and the middle class pay.

The other nifty part of this article is this:
The Legislature addressed the highly emotional issue of taking free roads and making them toll roads. These so-called "conversions" would require a public vote, and the Transportation Department will no longer be able to take a road under construction as a free road (such as U.S. 183 in Northwest Austin) and at the last moment dub it a toll road. But the exceptions associated with the new law — if a project adds expressway lanes with tolls but also has a number of free frontage lanes equal to what existed before, it will not be a conversion--mean that none of the controversial proposed toll roads in Austin will come up for a public vote.
If I'm reading this correctly, it means that if they build a toll road over an existing road, and build as many free lanes as are currently available on the existing road and make these new free lanes the access road, then they can toll any road. Not to mention that all of those roads that caused the "burst of flames" in Austin last year are still going to burn, or will be 'converted', shall we say. Then we have this interesting item that “now” the governor says he opposes conversions--now that everyone has found out about them and doesn't like them! Isn't that convenient? So you see, how good the legislative session went just depends on your point of view and what you wanted accomplished. Congrats, TxDot.


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