Bush unleashes highest possible "market-based" tolls nationwide

This last minute rule change MANDATES market-based tolling nationwide. Remember, it started here in Texas with the counterfeit moratorium bill, SB 792, that Rick Perry signed into law with glee largely due to the market-based tolling provision. It unleashed the MOST EXPENSIVE transportation tax on Texas and, as we predicted, across the country.

Market-based tolls means charging motorists “whatever the market will bear,” bringing us the HIGHEST possible toll tax. It’s runaway, punitive taxation based on greed, not the actual cost of constructing the road or retiring the debt. This will be the Bush-Perry legacy: name your price and we’ll hand over Americans’ wallets. We were the only grassroots group that actively fought this provision from becoming law. Help us fight to roll back this rule change and fight against tolls on freeways and the Trans Texas Corridor on the federal and state level next year. Sign-up for our email alerts here.

Bush road rule takes effect Jan-Transportation Dept
Thu, Dec 18 2008
http://www.afxnews.com by Lisa Lambert

WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) – The Bush administration will finalize changes on toll road regulations on Friday that it says will make privatizing infrastructure more efficient, counter to the view of leading Congressional Democrats that it will rob states of revenue and drive up tolls.

A Department of Transportation spokesman told Reuters on Thursday that details of the rule will be published in the Federal Register and will go into effect on Jan. 18.

The rule will require states to charge public toll authorities fair market value to lease roads built with federal assistance, in the hopes of making the authorities equal competitors with members of the private sector, said Doug Hecox.

“When a company wants to come in and bid for the work, they need to have some idea as to what the value of that would be,” Hecox said. The transportation department worked with states on the regulation changes, he said.

“In some states they may give the first pick or first chance to public agencies before they give it out to the private sector. In that case, it’s a little risky because there’s no guarantee they’re going to be choosing the fair market value,” he said.

In a letter sent to Transportation Secretary on Monday, Reps. James Oberstar and Peter DeFazio said that relying on fair market values would push up the fees to drive on those roads and that the values “bear no relation to the true financing, construction, operating and maintenance costs of the facility.”

Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee, and DeFazio, a California Democrat, chairs its Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

A committee spokesman said they had no comment on the finalization of the rule, which was proposed Oct. 8.

The representatives have said that changes to how toll roads are valued should be made in the upcoming transportation bill, to be written in 2009. But Hecox said the administration is concerned that might delay establishing a standard when the appetite for public-private partnerships is growing and states are looking into alternatives to fund infrastructure projects.

In most of the partnerships, also called “P3s,” a corporation leases a road from a state and then recoups its losses through levying tolls. The leases extend for decades so the companies may also deduct depreciation costs from their taxes, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Because the partnerships are fairly new in the United States, the GAO, the nonpartisan congressional investigative office, has not been able to quantify how many exist in the country.

The rule change will provide consistency for the corporations bidding for the contracts in different states, Hecox said.

“The businesses that…are waiting to compete for this kind of work can do so from a position of a level playing field, rather than having to be the best friend of the governor in this state or the best friend of the mayor in that state,” he said.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert) Keywords: MUNIS ROADS/

(lisa.lambert@thomsonreuters.com; +1-202-898-8328; Reuters Messaging: lisa.lambert.reuters.com@reuters.net)

2 Replies to “Bush unleashes highest possible "market-based" tolls nationwide”

  1. Neil M Campbell

    What else can Bush do in a few weeks? His place in history is sealed. I have been alive since FDR and am amazed at how far we have allowed thse no- nothing politicians to ruin the country.

  2. Laura

    What a piece of CROCK!!! I knew it when this financial fiasco started to unfold that something underhanded would be pushed on Texas and other states in America.
    Look at this from the investment hungry, profit at any cost, mentality. What greater need does America have than to upgrade the roads!!! And just how will they be financed…our illustrious powers that be have MAXED out the budget and now those who hold the markers…like China will demand profit for their investment and holding of debt…so how does an outgoing less than successful president halter or hamstring the Democratic heavy congress and Democratic incoming President???
    Surely the best way is by Presidential MANDATE!!! Wala, by his signature, he is yoking the American people with added burdens. Only the superrich will be able to afford the toll taxes that will be generated by Bushes’ mandate and flourish of his last-gasp signature. Lame Duck surely has no greater meaning than now.
    And yet he REFUSES to pardon those two border agents, who were doing their duty of stopping illegal aliens or worse from coming into the US. To think that he is coming back to Texas to live when he sold Texas out along with the other states with this mandate in his last hours in office. GEEZ!!!

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