TURF speaks to Dallas Tea Party
By Terri Hall
San Antonio Express-News blog
April 19, 2010
Though much maligned in the press, the Tea Party movement has the potential to bring much-needed attention to a host of fiscal issues that, if left unchecked, threaten to bankrupt the country. I was invited to speak at the Dallas Tea Party event at Quick Trip Stadium in Grand Prairie for its April 15th Tax Day anniversary, along with national talk radio host Mike Gallagher and Dallas talk radio hosts Chris Krok and Jeff Bolton. Fourteen-thousand concerned citizens from all walks of life, many political stripes, and of all colors gathered to express their concerns with a host of fiscal issues from government spending to unsustainable debt across a broad range of policies.
The new version of toll roads using “innovative financing” relies on heaps of multi-leveraged public debt (the same risky financial schemes that brought us the mortgage crisis and bailout era) and has caused our infrastructure to teeter on the edge of insolvency. Many in the DFW area heard for the first time about this new-fangled version of toll roads (totally different than the traditional turnpikes that have been in North Texas for decades) that co-mingle public and private funds and ultimately sells America’s public infrastructure to the highest bidder on Wall Street in order to generate quick cash for government. Think of it as a government bailout as a result of decades of out of control spending and a lack of properly funding legitimate priorities like public infrastructure.
The crowd response was nothing short of amazing with shouts of “who’s responsible for this?” and “what a rip-off,” along with other sentiments of fiscal disgust. North Texas is under an all-out toll road assault, with virtually every new lane slated to be tolled and close to 600 miles of planned toll lanes. All three of the current public private partnership (PPP) contracts that will sell our roads to foreign companies are in North Texas: the DFW Connector, North Tarrant Express/I-820, and LBJ/I-635. These deals will charge extremely high tolls, 75 cents PER MILE, which is like paying $17 more for every gallon of gas you buy, just to use a single road!
PPP contracts essentially give private corporations the power to levy taxes and it’s also opened the door to eminent domain abuse for private gain. PPPs are yet another example of socializing the losses and privatizing the profits that awakened the sleeping giant in the first place. Your average Joe is not gonna tolerate being taken to the cleaners for government irresponsibility nor for private gluttony.
With DFW and Houston comprising the largest population centers, their grassroots involvement on toll tax issues are critical to halting toll road proliferation and returning to sensible, affordable, and sustainable transportation policy in Texas. Clearly our elected officials have ignored the public outcry against tolls in Austin and San Antonio for years. But with the rise of the Tea Parties and the newly awakened electorate they represent, a massive, organized coalition can now be mounted against runaway toll taxation.
Fasten your seat belts, we’re in for a wild ride in the next legislative session!
Read the complete text of TURF’s Dallas Tea Party speech here.