U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
It was beautiful to hear a candidate for Texas governor actually take-on the detested and failed policies of Rick Perry in a crowd full of those who make a living off such policies. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison finished off the 12th Annual Transportation and Infrastructure Summit in Irving Friday with a speech outlining her positions on transportation.
Hutchison head and shoulders above the crowd
Don’t let Hutchison’s sleight build and gracious manner fool you. She’s as tough as nails and made some very bold statements in a crowd with a vested interest in a road-building slush fund, including a few jabs at Perry whom she referred to as the “Big Kahuna of tollways.” She repudiated tolling existing freeways calling it DOUBLE TAXATION and touted her many amendments to prevent TxDOT from doing so.
Her major theme was what she called highway fund “parity.” Texas has been what’s called a donor state, meaning Texas “donates’ some of its federal gas taxes collected to other states. Since Hutchison was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1993, Texas’ share of its federal gas taxes has gone from 73 cents of every dollar up to 92 cents of every dollar sent to Washington. With Texas handling 20% of the commerce coming through U.S. ports, it’s past time for Texas to get 100% of its gas taxes back.
In fact, Hutchison recently introduced legislation to allow Texas and other states to opt-out of the federal highway trust fund. She then slammed Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor as the biggest land grab in Texas history, calling it ill-conceived and an abuse of private property rights.
Hutchison also railed against Perry’s beloved CDA contracts because they basically create permanent toll roads (50 year contracts) and make the taxpayers pay a penalty to the private toll operators if any new roads are built surrounding the tollway.
Her sentiment is unequivocal: “I disagree with it 100%.”
She also decried the recent payment of $3.6 million to Cintra, the Spanish company that was the losing bidder on the hotly contested SH 121 tollway, which eventually was wrested from foreign-ownership by the public tollway authority. Hutchison said: “I call it a tax on arrogance.”
Perhaps most importantly was her clarification that the $60 million she helped secure for environmental studies for I-69 is for a FREE interstate within the existing right of way already purchased, not a continuation of Perry’s universally despised Trans Texas Corridor concept that would make I-69 a foreign-owned tollway.
Her parting words give the clearest indication as to how she would govern: “I will work with you, not dictate to you.”
Now that would be like a breath of fresh air to clean-up the stench coming from Perry and his highway department.