Gilbert only gubernatorial candidate with transportation plan

Link to article here. Hank Gilbert is a Board member for Texas TURF. He’s fought alongside us to stop the Trans Texas Corridor and toll road proliferation for more than 4 years. He was instrumental in KILLING private toll road contracts (where they sell our TX roads to the highest bidder on Wall Street and hand them over to foreign companies) in the special session and protecting teacher and public employee retirement funds from being raided for these risky toll road deals that are failing all over the country.

Hank Gilbert has transportation specifics

8:15 PM Thu, Oct 29, 2009 |  | 

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Unlike other candidates for governor who are looking to knock off Rick Perry, Hank Gilbert has a detailed proposal for transportation. The East Texas rancher has been battling against the Trans-Texas Corridor concept for years, so it stands to reason that anti-tolling is at the heart of the plan the Tyler Democrat announced today.

The most remarkable item is on the bottom of page 10 of a 10-page pdf. It says:

Hank proposes a one time increase in the gas tax of 8 cents and implementing automatic increases in the gas tax annually from 2012 forward based on increases in the Highway Cost Index (HCI), with a four percent cap on any annual increase. Should the HCI increase by more than 4% in any year, the balance would carry forward to the next year and be added to any increase for that year.In years where there is a zero or negative increase in the HCI, revenue generated from carryovers would go toward reducing TxDOT’s existing debt. This is the only way we can build out the infrastructure Texas desperately needs and restore fiscal responsibility to transportation funding without incurring massive new debts that will burden this state for decades to come.

At least Gilbert has the guts to own up to the cost of building and maintaining a first-class transportation system. Tom Schieffer came out critical of an 8-cent increase today but neglected to make clear that he was responding to his Democratic rival. We have yet to see a fleshed-out Schieffer plan, however.

Gilbert’s hostility to toll roads makes sense only if a higher gas tax would raise enough money to build the projects we need. Without lots of new money, this metro area can’t keep up without tolls.

The giant LBJ rebuild and North Tarrant Express project, for example, could never go forward without outside money and tolls, under the current revenue picture.

If a governor could squeeze that kind of tax money out of the Legislature, he or she would be a miracle worker. And it might take a miracle for a person to get elected while calling for a tax increase. Lots of political leaders thinks it’s needed, but few of them will admit it publicly.

One thing I like is Gilbert’s call for state money to help build mass transit systems.

One thing I hate is Gilbert’s idea for an elected transportation commission. We don’t need more politics in transportation policy.

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Will voters buy a tax increase for roads?

12:30 PM Fri, Oct 30, 2009 |
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And maybe put a guy like Hank Gilbert in the governor’s office?

The rancher Democrat announced his transportation plan yesterday in Fort Worth, including an 8-cent gas-tax hike and permanent indexing of the tax to cost of construction.

It came on the same day as doomsday scenarios laid out elsewhere in Fort Worth, before the Texas Transportation Commission. Money for roads continues to slide by the billions as cars use less fuel.

Coincidentally, regional transportation guru Michael Morris suggested to commissioners that traffic and roads might get so bad that voters could end up supporting raising taxes for roads.

Enter Gilbert. Does he have a chance with voters with his tax plan, as Morris might suggest? One trade-off Gilbert offering is to make it very tough to get more toll roads built. He has strong backing of anti-tollers across the state.

Gilbert said his gas tax plan would cost the average commuter between $1.20 and $1.60 a fillup. Say that’s $10 a month for a lot of people. It could sound like a bargain for those who pay as much in tolls as they do to the electric company each month. A Frisco resident who commutes downtown on the tollway pays more than $8 a day if they have a TollTag.

Other things to like about Gilbert from the standpoint of local transportation officials: He is bullish on mass transit. (Aside: That could win him points with this newspaper’s editorial board, considering our years-long push for expanding regional rail transit.)

The Gilbert plan says:

Improving and further integrating additional transit models into Texas’ transportation infrastructure makes both financial and environmental sense. Hank proposes making more state funds available to cities to improve existing transit systems in the state’s major metropolitan areas.Hank also proposes funding more “ring line” transit routes and commuter/light rail systems to allow commuters to travel around a city’s center without going through it, and connecting these ring lines to existing transportation infrastructure to make public transportation more efficient and consumer-friendly. …

Hank proposes expanded high speed commuter rail lines. Hank proposes funding to allow cities with large suburban populations to create (or expand) commuter rail to help commuters get in and out of major metro areas faster and more efficiently.

Like it or not, Gilbert has the only transportation plan out there among challengers to Rick Perry from either party.

2 Replies to “Gilbert only gubernatorial candidate with transportation plan”

  1. Babbie Migl

    I have been a card-carrying Republican most of my life, but I’m willing to support a good Democrat with an anti-toll road plan in the Governor’s race. Let’s shuck Rick Perry!

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