Perry brags about toll roads opening ahead of schedule in Austin…at the cost of losing control of our public freeways to foreign corporations whom Perry grants the right to levy unlimited toll taxes!

Perry claims the voters approved this wholesale shift to public-private partnerships, called CDAs in Texas (see toll glossary here). Here’s what the voters approved….

Prop 15 – Mobility Fund/Toll Equity Act of 2001 that appeared on the November 6, 2001 ballot:
“The constitutional amendment creating the Texas Mobility Fund and authorizing grants and loans of money and issuance of obligations for financing the construction, reconstruction, acquisition, operation, and expansion of state highways, turnpikes, toll roads, toll bridges, and other mobility projects.”

The voters passed this with 67% of the vote, and it was sold to them as allowing the State to sell bonds and borrow future gas tax revenues in order to speed up highway projects (versus simply pay as you go funding). See anything that says we want to hand over our public assets to private foreign corporations to gouge us for a lifetime toll tax on top of GAS TAX and many other taxes we pay for roads? Shame on the Governor. His nose ought to be growing like Pinnochio for that one….

Perry also perpetuates the myth that the choice for taxpayers is $1 hike in gas tax or a lifetime toll tax. A dollar hike in gas tax is equivalent to quadrupling the State’s current gas tax of 20 cents per gallon (18.4 cents federal, total of 38 cents a gallon). What on earth do they claim they need quadruple the money for? We’ve already built the entire federal interstate highway system and the entire state highway system. We should be cutting our road taxes! TxDOT’s own survey conducted by UT Austin states most Texans believe we should cut TxDOT’s budget a little not quadruple it!!!

Perry also states they built these tollways at a lower cost to taxpayers. How is a whole new tax on driving a lower cost to taxpayers? How is 15 cents a mile up to a $1 a mile (found in Comptroller Strayhorn’s investigation of the tolling authorities) lower than the 1-3 cents per mile we pay in gas taxes? How is charging us nearly double the price to build toll roads versus free roads a lower cost to taxpayers (see original $48 million cost for 281 expansion as a free road versus the $83 million cost as a toll road)? Perry’s nose is growing again…

See Perry’s press release below. Warning: nausea may ensue as result of viewing:
Link here.

Gov. Perry: Turnpike Will Open Nearly Year Early, $400 Million Under Budget
Press Release
Published in Texas insider: 06-08-06

PFLUGERVILLE – Gov. Rick Perry today announced that 40 miles of the Central Texas Turnpike will open nearly a year ahead of schedule and more than $400 million under budget.

“If that’s not reason enough to celebrate, Texans trying to get from Georgetown down to 290, up the Mopac Extension, or across the new Texas 45 can look forward to faster commutes with fewer accidents,” Perry said.

The governor attributed the state’s ability to complete these roads in less than four years to the public-private partnership funding mechanisms that the legislature authorized and voters approved in 2001.

“With new and innovative ways to pay for transportation, we can build needed roads sooner and at a lower cost to taxpayers,” Perry said. “Had we used the old transportation funding model and relied on gas taxes to finance this expansion, it would have taken an estimated 25 years to complete these roads.”

Joining Perry at the announcement were U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson, and State Rep. Mike Krusee.

“Texas is showing the rest of the country how to expand major parts of its highway system by leveraging private capital,” said Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. “That is why more states need to follow Texas’ lead and pass legislation allowing the private sector a broader role in funding and operating transportation systems.”

The roads are being financed with a combination of funding sources, including a loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation, bond sales, local government contributions of right-of-way, and tolls.

“If state and local leaders hadn’t embraced this modern vision for transportation funding, Central Texans would have only two options: Pay at least a dollar more at the pump for each gallon of gas or waste even more time in a rush hour parking lot that gets filled with more trucks and vehicles with each passing year,” Perry said.

Perry also noted that drivers will be able to order the TxTAG, a windshield sticker that will allow motorists to pass through toll booths at posted speeds. The TxTAG, which will save motorists 10 percent off the regular toll, can be used on every toll road in the state. Texans can visit to get a TxTAG account.