Kay Bailey Hutchison comes to East Texas and brings with her bigger government
A good friend of mine works for one of the Tyler stations and told me about Senator Hutchison’s press conference today by saying “she’s just really cold and doesn’t have any energy at all.” He wasn’t talking about her policies (can’t really because she doesn’t have any, but I’ll get to that in a minute) but rather her demeanor…he just didn’t think she had it in her, saying “looks like she is just phoning it in.”
On to what she had to say…””When I take the oath of office as governor, the Trans-Texas Corridor will be officially dead, and I can promise you it will not be dead until I am governor of Texas.” Two problems with this…first, the plan is already dead. While I know it’s easier for Kay to criticize rather than actually introduce something new and visionary, it is a lot easier to stop misleading voters into thinking the program is still alive. Second…ee can argue whether or not the TTC was the best plan, but at the end of the day … it was a plan! She has no plan when you look at it in its whole.
But as the Perry campaign pointed out, there were other misleading (lies) comments from the Senator…
Below is a fact check on Sen. Hutchison’s transportation proposals:
Sen. Hutchison wants to “kill the Trans-Texas Corridor.”
FACT: The Transportation Commission has recommended to the Federal Highway Administration to disapprove construction of TTC-35. The project is dead.
Sen. Hutchison offers several proposals to “reform private highway financing,” but most are already in practice or provided under current law:
• Sen. Hutchison says, “No state contracts should reduce the speed limit on public roads”
FACT: They don’t – the Transportation Commission currently has the discretion to set speed limits. No contract provides a decrease in the speed limit for public roads.
• Sen. Hutchison says, “No existing free road should be tolled.”
FACT: This is current law under Transportation Code, Chapter 228.201.
• Sen. Hutchison says, “Existing rights-of-way should be used for necessary capacity expansion”
FACT: This is a current practice of TxDOT.
• Sen. Hutchison says, “Private contractors should not be awarded exclusive concessionary rights along frontage roads”
FACT: This is specifically not allowed under Proposition 11, the constitutional amendment championed by Gov. Perry and approved by voters this November.
• Sen. Hutchison says, “Local communities should have the right to determine whether new roads should be tolled or publicly constructed.”
FACT: This is currently the practice of TxDOT, which has a policy to defer to the local communities in matters of tolling, whether or not to construct, and the setting of toll rates and other business terms.
• Sen. Hutchison says, “The ability to restrict construction or expansion of public roads under a Comprehensive Development Agreement should be reformed, including preservation of the right to assume public ownership and operation of the toll project in the future.”
FACT: This is current law, as the public never relinquishes ownership, Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 223.206
Sen. Hutchison wants to “call for greater consistency in the planning stages by developing commonly understood forecasts for revenues, population growth, and other factors, so that regional planning organizations can rely on uniform assumptions when developing long term plans…”
FACT: These provisions are currently being evaluated by the rule review committee at TxDOT in response to proposals included in the TxDOT Sunset bill from the 81st session.
Sen. Hutchison says Texas should “Require Additional Accountability In Measuring Results”
FACT: Per Senate Bill 1, Riders 19 and 35 from the 81st session, Texans can find and track project progress and completion on TxDOT’s website (www.dot.state.tx.us/project_information/project_tracker…).
Sen. Hutchison wants to “Stop Highway Fund Diversions.”
FACT: Gov. Perry has been a longtime advocate of ending budget diversions. In 2007, he presented a budget that would have ended diversions from Fund 6 (the state highway fund) bringing the total Fund 6 appropriations to $6.5 billion, but the Legislature did not include this provision in its final budget. In 2009, Gov. Perry continued to advocate better truth-in-budgeting and signed a budget for 2010-11 that ends more than $300 million of the diversions from Fund 6, putting these funds back into building and maintaining Texas roads.
Sen. Hutchison says, “Over the last 10 years, our transportation system has languished in neglect”
FACT: Over the last 10 years, Texas has built 5,426 new lane mile of non-tolled highways (92% of total lane miles added) and 472 new tolled lane miles (only 8% of total new miles added), despite the fact that Texas is shortchanged by Washington for road construction and maintenance – Texas receives only 70 cents for every dollar sent to Washington for these projects.
Sen. Hutchison says, “The state should explore ways for traditional hubs such as airports and rail stations to link through intermodal connectors”
FACT: Sen. Hutchison is describing a procedure that already exists. Regional Mobility Authorities (RMA) are statutorily authorized to link multiple modes of transportation such as highways, airports, rail stations, public transit. The RMA model also consolidates responsibility for those modes under a single locally appointed board.
Sen. Hutchison says, “TxDOT should assist in relocating urban freight rail networks to relieve metropolitan roadway congestion and increase safety” and wants to “Renew Emphasis On High-Speed And Commuter Rail.”
FACT: While rail networks are an important part of our state’s transportation infrastructure, Sen. Hutchison offers no way to pay for these projects. Her passenger and freight rail proposals would cost tens of billions of dollars. Revenue from the state’s traditional funding sources – state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees – are constitutionally prohibited from funding rail and raising taxes is not the answer to solving our transportation challenges.
So, as usual, the Senator misleads and borrows…throws them in a blender…and calls them “new plan.” Reading this makes me realize she’s been in Washington D.C. for sixteen years. Everything resembles bigger government and offers nothing new. Well, she does offer toll roads but is against the TTC. Sadly, she has failed to get us the money in return in tax dollars – which would have helped us fix the problem. Sending a dollar to DC and only getting seventy cents in return is not fighting for Texans.