Monday, October 31, 2005

 

No Need for Taxpayer Subsidies Through Prop 1

Union Pacific's profits up 83%


A completely new argument being made FOR Proposition 1 is rail safety. State Representative Ruth McClendon Jones and others claim rail companies don't have the money to move their rail lines out of urban areas. Not true, Reuters published an article stating Union Pacific's profits are up 83%. They make twice what the Transportation Commission collects in state gas tax revenues, so there is no financial data to support these politicians' claims that rail companies can't afford to move their lines.

Taxpayers need to be made aware of this fact and encouraged to vote NO on Proposition 1! It confirms what we've been saying all along. Taxpayers shouldn't be asked to pay for private companies' costs of doing of business. These very profitable companies keep coming to the taxpayer trough and it's time to say a loud "No!"

See the article for yourself.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

 

LAWSUIT GIVES MPO TRANSPORTATION BOARD A BLACK EYE

Citizens demand accountability, open and responsive government

MPO TRANSPORTATION POLICY BOARD STATEMENT
October 24, 2005


Concerns about the toll plans for Bexar County and across the state have birthed a far-reaching movement that crosses party lines and socioeconomic status. Our local group has more than doubled in size in just the last 4 weeks. Everyone is affected by the higher cost of transportation!

Our group of concerned citizens has PLEADED with this body to stop the toll plans and to do the right thing. We've asked you to order an independent review of the toll plans. We've asked you to consider reconfiguring the composition of this Board. We've asked you to change meeting times to allow for greater public input. We've asked you to fight for our fair share of the gas tax to return to this region. We've asked you to properly study the impact of high gasoline prices on toll feasibility. You have stubbornly IGNORED EVERY ONE of these practical and reasonable requests. Now you have a lawsuit against you for violating the constitutional separation of powers and for privatizing and tolling our tax funded public highways.

An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure. You ought to heed that advice. The taxpayers will not stand idly by and allow you to hold Texas families' hostage to pay a toll just to drive to work, school, or shop without our consent!

We're advocating a good government solution to a very prolific problem. Our government has lost touch with those whom it is called to and paid to serve. We're suggesting the current dysfunctional and unconstitutional MPOs be replaced with legal entities composed of seven-member boards serving two year terms. Texas citizens should elect five “at large” seats, the Governor appoints one member, and the local transit organization appoints the seventh member of each regional board. At the very least, only elected members should be vested with voting powers and be who constitutes a quorum.

The Governor is coming under fire from some members of the press who see his scheme as bad for Texas. Rick Perry's "innovative financing" made Texas Monthly's "Top 10 ways to Fix Texas.” The article includes "Stop the toll road menace" at the #2 position. It states, "Turning planned freeways-that’s freeways-into toll roads in urban areas and holding commuters hostage is downright un-American and un-Texan,” --Texas Monthly, August 2005.

We're a nonpartisan grassroots watchdog organization seeking efficient transportation solutions, good government and accountability. The Texas Toll Party is not opposed to traditional toll roads that are designed and built as whole new highways that complement free expressways. Traditional tollways are primarily funded with investor dollars. In contrast, "freeway tolls" are funded with tax dollars to create a revenue-generating machine that does not solve traffic congestion. Freeway tolls shift public highways to tollways and hold drivers hostage to pay a fee to drive to work, school or play.

This scheme is illegal, unconstitutional, un-American and definitely un-Texan! We await your decision to make this very wrong situation right again, which is the only thing that will restore the public trust.

Friday, October 14, 2005

 

Rep. Frank Corte Appointed to Eminent Domain Committee

Found in Texas Government Insider:

Members of transportation financing, eminent domain committees named


Speaker Tom Craddick today announced the Texas House of Representatives appointees to the Study Commission on Transportation Financing and an interim committee studying the use of eminent domain power.

On the transportation financing committee, Rep. Mike Krusee of Round Rock will serve as a Joint Presiding Officer. Other appointees include Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels.

On the eminent domain committee, Rep. Beverly Woolley (pictured) of Houston will serve as co-chair. Other appointees are Rep. Frank Corte from San Antonio, Rep. Aaron Pena of Edinburg, Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and Rep. Phil King from Weatherford.


I'm not holding my breath on this one, these "committees" are stacked with tollers. In another source, it states they'll conduct public hearings. Why do they bother? They've already conducted hundreds of public hearings around the state as TxDOT reveals their plan to toll our existing roads, they take down the comments, and proceed to IGNORE the public's OVERWHELMING opposition to them. OK folks, if you're in Frank Corte's district, perhaps he needs a fresh email from his constituents on the necessity of finding his voice in opposition to the toll plans that run smack through his district (1604/281 project), and that encourages him to use his newfound influence to affect some changes! For starters, how 'bout he put a stop to the highway robbery of our existing FREEway and right of way on US 281 & Loop 1604? Tolls were taken off 151 in San Antonio and 281 in Comal County due the public outcry and their leaders riding to the rescue, so where's Frank Corte?

 

"Tolls are the American Way" says Rep. Mike Krusee

Rep. Mike Krusee chairs the House Transportation Committee and thinks their toll proliferation plan is applying free market principles to transportation. Mr. Krusee, I have some very basic principles to share with you, so please pay attention. Free market principles cannot apply to limited public assets like roadways. We, the consumer, can't go build a competing road if we don't like the way a private corporation builds and tolls our existing ones. Giving 50 year exclusive contracts to private companies to set toll rates with no oversight by any elected official is far from free market competition. There is no place for such narrow-minded thinking from our public officials. The voters have spoken loud and clear, a supermajority, in fact, against tolling our existing FREEways. What Mike Krusee and his cronies are doing is entirely UN-American. Self-government and balance of power are among America's founding principles, and this TOLL ONLY mindset against the will of the majority of Texans is offensive, morally and ethically wrong, and, frankly, would make our Founding Fathers roll in their graves.

See Mr. Krusee's comments for yourself!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

 

RMA Survey in the News - Round 1

In the Express-News

In the Newspaper.com

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

 

TOLLING AUTHORITY ILLEGALLY CONDUCTS POLITICAL SURVEY WITH PUBLIC FUNDS!

Skewed Results Leave Out the Most Pertinent Information Public Needs to Make Informed Decision About Toll Plan

San Antonio, TX, October 12, 2005 – By the Alamo RMA's own press release revealing the results of a survey conducted by Baselice & Associates, they admit their toll plans are in trouble (though they probably don't even know it). When asked the best way to pay for new construction, only 27% of Bexar County residents said toll lanes. That means 73% DO NOT WANT TOLL LANES. This is consistent with other polls that show 70% of Texans are opposed to tolls.

"What I find totally outrageous is that the Alamo RMA is surveying registered voters asking them party affiliation and how they vote (straight ticket or not) USING PUBLIC MONEY! IT'S AGAINST THE LAW for a state entity to conduct political polling (GOVERNMENT CODE - CHAPTER 556. POLITICAL ACTIVITIES BY CERTAIN PUBLIC ENTITIES AND INDIVIDUALS)!" says a shocked Terri Hall, San Antonio Director of a grassroots group opposed to freeway tolls called Texas Toll Party.com. "This is another example of how this toll proliferation isn't about mobility, congestion, and economic well-being, it's about politics! It only confirms what Comptroller Carole Strayhorn found in her study of RMAs which found self-enrichment, insider dealings, and conflicts of interest (View the report)."

"TxDOT and the AMRA know that the ONLY thing that stands in their way is public opinion. The Governor and Legislature have already re-written the law to allow them to double tax roads we've already for and to toll our existing highways, so now these corrupt state agencies are trying to manipulate public opinion to appear in favor of their toll scheme. Despite their best efforts to spin the results to make it appear as though people prefer tolls more than other funding options, the survey at the end of the day, no matter how skewed, still manages to reveal that 73% of respondents don't want tolls to fund highway projects," notices Hall. "Frankly, it's really sad that our government has become so irresponsible that we no longer trust its public opinion polls. The RMA is using a predictable scheme in order to push the largest tax increase in Texas history, increase the cost of doing business, and grow the size of government in very difficult economic times."

"The purpose of the survey is to push tolls. The TOLLING authority paid a company to manipulate the facts to get some positive numbers for tolls, which they got in some areas of the survey because the questions are clearly worded to produce the desired result in favor of tolls. In actuality, what the questions reveal is that people want congestion relief more quickly. Once respondents were given other options, the majority, 73%, didn't favor tolls!

"The poll actually tells respondents that tolls won't add to the tax burden! A toll is a tax and even when people choose NOT to pay it, they do pay the tax, BIG TIME, through the higher costs of goods. Many of the questions are based on such bogus statements, therefore most of this poll yields bogus results. When asking opinions about specific toll plans, it states new toll lanes would be added on specific freeways leaving the existing lanes non-tolled. That's patently untrue and they know it!

"This poll is rife with falsehoods and half truths like: it's tolls or a 25 cent regional gas tax hike (the Central Texas MPO found it would only take 1.5-2 cents gas tax hike for needed improvements), it's tolls or we don't get our highway improvements for 20 years (TxDOT has admitted on camera to a local reporter that they have the funds for the improvements on 281 AND we have in our possession TxDOT's own documents stating the funds exist and will be used to build US 281 as a toll road instead), that the people who use the toll lanes pay for the construction and operation of the toll lanes (not true $100 million in gas tax money is being used to re-build existing freeways into tollways), and every question about adding toll lanes leads the respondent to believe tolls would only be placed on NEW lanes (the Federal Highway Administration states any lanes built within existing right of way whether new pavement or not is an existing lane). These are verifiably false and misleading statements and the RMA needs to be held to account," states Hall.

What they didn't tell respondents is they're converting existing lanes into toll lanes leaving only frontage road as the "non-toll alternative," that they're handing our highways over to a private company to set the toll rates as high as they want using secret contracts for up to 50 years, that taxpayer money not just private money is being used to build the toll roads, that bonds and pass through financing are among the options that can accelerate highway projects without using tolls, and a host of other vital information upon which people need in order to make an educated decision about the toll plans.

"I'd say this is key information that would glean vastly different answers. I KNOW it would because we're on the ground every week educating people about TxDOT's toll plans, and once folks find out they're tolling an existing road we've already paid for, and in some cases that the improvements are paid for as well, it's universally opposed! People aren't just opposed; they're incensed! TxDOT's own survey conducted by UT Austin found that over 70% of Texans are against tolling existing roads, so of course, they have to lie in order to get numbers that make it appear Texans are for tolls.

"This slanted survey claims that support on the northside increased to 62% when given details about the plan, but nowhere do they tell those residents that the improvement plan for 281 is ALREADY FUNDED. Why don't they ask northside residents this question: do you support paying tolls for improvements that are already paid for on highways that are already paid for? Did the pollster inform these residents that bonds can provide funding for other highway improvements without increasing the tax burden?" asks Hall.

Toll roads cost 40-100% more to build than free roads, they cost more to maintain, less than half of motorists can afford to use them, it drives up the cost of goods for everyone regardless of whether or not they personally choose to drive in the toll lanes, and it's an inefficient tax where most of the money goes into collecting tolls and catching violators.

"To build these as traditional freeways it's less expensive, less invasive, less maintenance, with more control and accountability to voters, allows business to maintain its cost of goods, and EVERYONE can use them. Who would choose tolls given that set of facts?" concludes Hall.

"Let's see a true independent survey conducted….put the toll plan to a vote and the RMA will see definitively what voters think about their toll tax scheme," challenged Hall. "The fact is TxDOT and the RMA are afraid of a genuine public debate on these issues. The facts are not on their side so they have to hide them or push a deceptive message in order to cram their toll plan down the taxpayers' throats!"

END

Sunday, October 09, 2005

 

Vote NO on Props 1 & 9

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (Again!)
By Toll Party Founder, Sal Costello

In 2001, a Proposition was put forward to the voters that allowed the Texas Mobility Fund. Texans voted for "mobility" and Prop 15 became a constitutional amendment. Only later we found out the wolf was in sheep's clothing.

Prop 15 ballot language did NOT tell the voter that it was a fund that would allow our public highways to be privatized and tolled - for the first time in our country - so corporations can profit from what is ours. It failed to hint that TxDOT would toll roads and right of way that was already funded. It failed to tell the voter that a toll road costs 40-100% more than a free road. It did not tell the voter that TxDOT would use that power to blackmail regions across Texas to toll it's public highways.

PROPOSITION 1
TODAY, the Prop 1 rail fund is the same voter trick as Prop 15 from 2001, except this time it's about the public subsidizing rail.

Prop 1 allows an open ended corporate subsidy. Taxpayers will pay unlimited tax dollars to move private corporation rail lines into the Trans Texas Corridor after Gov. Perry promised no public funds would be used.

The state DEBT commitment would also be open-ended, with no limit on the amount of state bonds that could be issued from this new fund. By amending the Constitution to authorize the creation of this fund, the state will commit itself to massive debt for generations. Private corporations will profit from this taxpayer giveaway that help the controversial Trans Texas Corridor move forward. The railroad industry no longer is state-regulated, and state government should not involve itself in that industry's investment decisions.

The ballot language does not advise the voter that it's a special interest fund that the taxpayer pays for and private corporations profit from. It is a blank check and unlimited debt, say NO.

PROPOSITION 9
Proposition 9 allows unelected, unaccountable Tolling Authority board members extended term limits. Current 2 year term limits would expand to 6 years for Regional Mobility Authorities. These appointed people are allowed to privatize and toll our freeways - they will set the toll rates for roads we've already paid for.

A two-year term of office requires more frequent assessments of the board members job performance. Six-year terms are not necessary to carry out the functions of the authority since the staff or employees of an authority would do so regardless of the length of the directors’ terms.

Comptroller of Texas has reported the RMAs create "Double taxation without accountability", and that the RMA's loose management practices cost all Texans more. NOT surprisingly, Comptroller also found favoritism and self-enrichment as board members gave contracts (without bids) to their friends and their own companies. RMA boards should be required to abide by the standard provided in the Constitution that limits the terms of members of such boards to two years.

November 8th Constitutional Amendments: Vote NO on Prop 1 & 9:
Take the Toll Poll

Saturday, October 08, 2005

 

Highway Robbery Flyer

This flyer is designed to be 2 sided and cut in half (more bang for our buck). Get it in the hands of everyone you know! Email Terri for a crystal clear PDF file of the flyer at: terrih@gvtc.com.


Friday, October 07, 2005

 

Flyer Blitz Moves to Bandera Rd/1604!

PRESS ADVISORY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

San Antonio, TX, October 7, 2005 – TexasTollParty.com is set to launch its next PR blitz to counter survey distribution by TxDOT asking people what they're willing to pay for tolls.

WHO: Grassroots citizens through the Texas Toll Party.com

WHAT: Flier distribution blitz during rush hour traffic at 1604 & Bandera Rd. (Bandera Road has been added to the toll plans)

WHEN: Friday, October 7 @ 8:00 AM!

WHERE: 1604 & Bandera Rd.

WHY: To give motorists the facts about TxDOT's toll plan.

"What most folks don't know is that TxDOT is saying it's tolls or nor improvements and that's not true. Folks also may not be aware that it's unlawful to convert an existing highway into a toll road without a vote of the people," says Terri Hall, Director of the San Antonio Texas Toll Party.

"TxDOT is taking freeways we've already paid for and unlawfully converting them into tollways. Never in the history of our country has our government attempted to shift FREEways that are already paid for into tollways. We know and trust the taxpayers to get informed on this subject, and that once people are aware of the facts, they'll help us work to fight this outrageous misuse of taxpayer money," Hall remarks.

TxDOT has been failing to tell the public this key information and framing the debate as tolls or we get no improvements. When they're taking EVERY freeway main lane on US 281 and soon on I-35 leaving only frontage road as the free lanes, they ARE forcing people to pay a toll as well as converting an existing highway that's already paid for into a tollway at a cost of nearly $2,000 a year for the average family (more if the toll rates are $.44-1.00 a mile like it was revealed in an independent review up in Austin).

"When it costs more to build and maintain toll roads than to build them as free roads, why on earth would we spend more to build toll roads only a few can use versus build them as free roads at less cost that EVERYONE can use? This is whole thing smacks of fiscal mismanagement," Hall says in amazement.

In Austin, they found it was $100 million more to build improvements as toll roads vs. free roads. Tolls are a sloppy tax where most of the money goes into collecting the tolls, and in this case when using a public-private agreement (known as CDA agreement), goes to line the pockets of a private corporation for up to 50 years.

-END-

Thursday, October 06, 2005

 

City Gives Illegal Loan to Alamo RMA

One of our stellar members, Niki Kuhns, took the Mayor and City Council to task at today's City Council meeting over their $500,000 loan to the Alamo RMA. See her article in today's SA Current. She thought, "Where in the City's charter does it allow them to give loans much less to a state established entity?" It begs the question, did Bexar County Commissioners do the same thing when it loaned the Alamo RMA $750,000 two years in a row? Then add to that the Alamo RMA was just awarded a $1 million toll equity grant for the purpose of "reviewing" a contract to build our toll starter system for the next year, and you have to ask: what does an all volunteer Board with 2 employees need with $2.25 million in operating expenses just to "evaluate" a contract (FOR ONE YEAR!!!)?

Not only is our Transportation Department a bloated bureaucracy, the Legislature and the Governor have brought us yet another bloated bureaucracy whose frittering away our essential highway funds for bureaucratic pay-offs to their special interest corporate friends: RMAs. Enough is enough, we need to stop these illegal loans and abuse of taxpayer money! Go Niki, she had the Mayor and the City Attorney scrambling for cover...ask the State Auditor, John Keel, to investigate TxDOT, the City, and the County, and "to report fraud, waste, and/or abuse occurring at a Texas State agency" (exact wording from his web site): go to State Auditor's site or call the SAO Hotline at 1-800-TX-AUDIT.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

 

TOLL PARTY FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST PERRY, TxDOT, and MPOs!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GOV. PERRY LACKS AUTHORITY TO COMPLETE HIS UNLAWFUL PLAN TO PRIVATIZE AND TOLL PUBLIC HIGHWAYS!


Austin, TX. — People for Efficient Transportation, Inc. filed a lawsuit today in the District Court of Travis County, on behalf of taxpayers throughout Texas against Governor Rick Perry. The lawsuit takes Gov. Perry to task, as the state's Chief Planning Officer, for allowing unlawful Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to allocate federal dollars, which includes allocating funds for Perry's plan to privatize and toll our tax funded Texas public highways.

NO AUTHORITY TO ALLOCATE FEDERAL FUNDS
Governor Perry has mandated that MPOs shift our public freeways into tollways across the state; however, MPOs simply have no authority whatsoever to dispense funds for such an unpopular and unconstitutional scheme. That includes allocating tax dollars to Gov. Perry's unelected, unaccountable Regional Mobility Authoritys (RMAs) which will set the toll rates for our already tax funded public highways! It's important to note that public highways have never been shifted to tollways in the history of our country.

TEXAS CONSTITUTION VIOLATED
Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO - www.campotexas.org) and San Antonio Metropolitan Planning Organization (SAMPO - www.sametroplan.org) are also named in the suit as two of the many MPO boards in Texas are violating the Texas constitution. The constitution clearly states there must be a "separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch", however, the MPOs have legislators, yes, State Representatives and Senators, serving on these administrative boards.

The first leg of Rick Perry's Trans Texas Corridor, a 4,000 mile plan of supertollways, was approved by Capital Area MPO in 2000 without the MPO having one statute that allowed it to allocate tax dollars to the 130 Corridor just east of Austin.

DOUBLE TAX WITHOUT AUTHORITY
"The Governor has no clothes." said PET officer and founder Sal Costello, "At this moment, a Texas law simply does not exist to allow Rick Perry to complete his plan of converting our public highways to tollways.”

Costello added, "Rick Perry's Double Tax tolling scheme takes existing public highway projects that are fully funded with gas tax dollars, some on the verge of completion, and turns them into toll roads at the last minute. It's a double tax. It's morally and ethically wrong. The Governor is being deceptive when he tells the public that he won't toll existing highways. This deception allows billions of dollars worth of taxpayer-funded roads, and right of way in Texas to be shifted to toll roads, to hold Texas families hostage to pay a toll to drive to work, school or shop. On top of that, he's doing it without following Texas law."

Sal Costello continued, "Gov. Perry calls his scheme to toll our already tax funded roads 'innovative financing'. We call it Highway Robbery!"

MPOs such as CAMPO represent a hodge podge of board members. With State Representatives and Senators serving unconstitutionally on these MPO boards, State Representative Terry Keel has stated there is "an inherent conflict of interest.”

A GOOD GOVERNMENT SOLUTION
Backed by outraged taxpayers throughout the state, PET Inc. is suggesting a good government solution to the current dysfunctional and unconstitutional MPOs: 1) Dismantle the current unconstitutional MPOs. 2) Replace the current MPOs (http://www.dot.state.tx.us/tpp/mpo/map.htm) with legal entities composed of seven-member boards serving two year terms. Texas citizens should elect five “at large” seats, the Governor appoints one member, and the local transit organization appoints the seventh member of each regional board.

The Governor is coming under fire from some members of the press who see his scheme as bad for Texas. Rick Perry's "innovative financing" made Texas Monthly's "Top 10 ways to Fix Texas.” The article includes "Stop the toll road menace" at the #2 position. It states, "Turning planned freeways-that’s freeways-into toll roads in urban areas and holding commuters hostage is downright un-American and un-Texan.,” Texas Monthly, 8/05.

People for Efficient Transportation, Inc, is a nonpartisan grassroots watchdog organization seeking efficient transportation solutions, good government and accountability. PET is not opposed to traditional toll roads that are designed and built as whole new highways that complement free expressways. Traditional tollways are primarily funded with investor dollars. In contrast, "freeway tolls" are funded with tax dollars to create a revenue-generating machine that does not solve traffic congestion. Freeway tolls shift public highways to tollways and hold drivers hostage to pay a fee to drive to work, school or play.

People for Efficient Transportation, Inc. is represented in this suit by the Texas Legal Foundation and its President and General Counsel, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Steve Smith.

It’s clear where the Perry administration stands on toll roads. The Governor and his appointees want to turn a great many of our highways into tollways. Consider this quote from Ric Williamson who was appointed by Rick Perry to govern TXDOT: “In your lifetime, most existing roads will have tolls.”

Contact: Sal Costello, Founder of PET Inc.
Tel: 512/371-9926
Email: imacsal@aol.com

People for Efficient Transportation, Inc.
9901 PO Box 90715
Austin, TX 78709-0715

END


---------------------------------------

Texas Legal Foundation
710 West Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701

10/05/05

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Texas Legal Foundation (“TLF”) today filed suit on behalf of People for Efficient Transportation, Inc. against Governor Rick Perry, the Texas Department of Transportation, Capitol Area Metropolitan Transportation Organization (“CAMPO”) (www.campotexas.org) , and the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Transportation Organization (“SAMPO”) (www.sametroplan.org).

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Steven W. Smith, who is TLF's president & general counsel, said: “The purpose of the lawsuit is to make these local public entities more accountable to the voters.”

David Rogers, TLF's policy director, said: “This lawsuit is exactly what the Texas Legal Foundation was chartered to do. A supermajority of Texans oppose tolls on taxpayer-funded highways, and want government to be accountable for toll decisions, but those desires have been ignored by government.”

Smith added: “Even though polls show that more than 80% of central Texans oppose the governor's toll-tax plan, CAMPO and SAMPO have repeatedly chosen to endorse that fundamentally flawed plan.”

In the suit, People for Efficient Transportation, the plaintiff, makes the following legal allegations: (1) Neither the governor nor the Texas Department of Transportation has authority under Texas law to create special districts like CAMPO and SAMPO; (2) Legislators serving on the CAMPO and SAMPO boards violate the separation of powers provision of the Texas Constitution; and (3) neither CAMPO nor SAMPO have authority under Texas law to appropriate the tens of millions of dollars they spend each year.

The plaintiff does not request injunctive relief at this time, but expects that the Legislature will respond to a declaratory judgment in the plaintiff's favor by adopting, in a timely manner, legislation that properly authorizes CAMPO and SAMPO. The plaintiff, TLF and others will pressure the Legislature to pass legislation that, in addition to fixing the constitutional flaws raised in the suit, makes those entities more accountable to the Texans they serve.

The Texas Legal Foundation is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advocate “conservative public policy positions that are held by a majority of Texas citizens but that have not been implemented by the government.”

END

 

Glossary of Toll Terms

CDA – Comprehensive Development Agreement, public –private partnerships that amount to selling ownership of our public assets to private, even foreign, companies for up to 50 years (perhaps longer based on news reports). Private companies negotiate for the control of toll rates and the non-toll lanes(to slow speed limits or increase time at traffic signals) to ensure they make enough profit from the toll roads. It isn’t enough for these highway interests to just bid to build the roads, now they want to control them and exclusively profit off of the taxpayers for up to 50 years per contract WITHOUT COMPETITION!

Cintra – A Spanish-based consortium who was awarded the first leg of the Trans Texas Corridor that parallels I-35 and the bid to build the San Antonio toll starter system on 281 and Loop 1604. Partners with Zachry. Cintra recently purchased a Houston-based construction company, Webber Group, in order to appear more "American" for future highway bids.

Macquarie 1604 Partnership - Second company to throw hat in the ring to bid to build our toll starter system. They apparently have partnered with Cintra in the past on the Ontario Toll Project disaster up in Canada. Read about their standard operating procedures using secret public-private partnerships like Cintra to gain a monopoly on our public highways for up to 99 years here.

MPO – Metropolitan Planning Organization - established by the federal government to guide where federal gas tax dollars get allocated locally. The Federal Transportation Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and its predecessor [Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA)], established the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for San Antonio-Bexar County. TEA-21 states that the MPO should have local elected officials, representatives of major transit authorities, airports, rail and ports and appropriate state officials.

Mobility Fund/Toll Equity Act of 2001 (Prop 15) 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 TxDOT to borrow future gas tax revenues in order to speed up highway projects (versus simply pay as you go funding). Nowhere is a toll only mandate mentioned in that proposition.

Prop 1 on Nov 8 ballot - TODAY, the Prop 1 rail fund is the same voter trick as Prop 15 from 2001, except this time it's about the public subsidizing rail.__Prop 1 allows an open ended corporate subsidy. Taxpayers will pay unlimited tax dollars to move private corporation rail lines into the Trans Texas Corridor after Gov. Perry promised no public funds would be used.__The state DEBT commitment would also be open-ended, with no limit on the amount of state bonds that could be issued from this new fund. By amending the Constitution to authorize the creation of this fund, the state will commit itself to massive debt for generations. Private corporations will profit from this taxpayer giveaway that help the controversial Trans Texas Corridor move forward. The railroad industry no longer is state-regulated, and state government should not involve itself in that industry's investment decisions.__The ballot language does not advise the voter of the that it's a special interest fund that the taxpayer pays for and private corporations profit from. It is a blank check and unlimited debt, say NO.

Prop 9 on Nov 8 ballot - Proposition 9 allows unelected, unaccountable Tolling Authority board members extended term limits. Current 2 year term limits would expand to 6 years for Regional Mobility Authorities. These appointed people are allowed to privatize and toll our freeways - they will set the toll rates for roads we've already paid for.__A two-year term of office requires more frequent assessments of the board members job performance. Six-year terms are not necessary to carry out the functions of the authority since the staff or employees of an authority would do so regardless of the length of the directors’ terms.__Comptroller of Texas has reported the RMAs create "Double taxation without accountability", and that the RMA's loose management practices cost all Texans more. NOT surprisingly, Comptroller also found favoritism and self-enrichment as board members gave contracts (without bids) to their friends and their own companies. RMA boards should be required to abide by the standard provided in the Constitution that limits the terms of members of such boards to two years.

RMA – Regional Mobility Authorities, unelected mini-TxDOT's established by the Legislature in HB 3588. Each county commissioner appoints one member, the county judge appoints 3 members, and the Governor appoints the Chair. The essentially manage toll projects, collect tolls, and arrange for the sale of bonds for road projects.

HB 3588 passed in the 2003 legislative session - Law that established the Trans Texas Corridor, proliferation of toll roads, RMAs, and the transfer of highway funds from the general revenue fund into a mobility fund that TxDOT can allocate at will for useless things like "reviewing" a private contract (or CDA) for a year. The Alamo RMA took advantage of these funds to do just that to the tune of $1 million! So much for tolls speeding up highway projects!

HB 2702 Omnibus Highway Bill from 2005 legislative session - Elected officials hide behind this saying, "it prohibits the conversion of existing highways into tollways without a vote of the people." But it has so many loopholes, it's useless against highway robbery, and, in fact, empowers the Transportation Commission with sole discretion over converting existing highways into tollways.

Zachry American Infrastructure – San Antonio-based construction company who was awarded the first leg of the Trans Texas Corridor that parallels I-35 and the bid to build the San Antonio toll starter system on 281 and Loop 1604. Partners with Cintra.

Portion of HB 2702 that addresses converting existing highways into toll roads –
SECTION 2.36. Chapter 228, Transportation Code, is amended
by adding Subchapter E to read as follows: SUBCHAPTER E. LIMITATION ON TOLL FACILITY DETERMINATION;
CONVERSION OF NONTOLLED STATE HIGHWAY Sec. 228.201. LIMITATION ON TOLL FACILITY DESIGNATION.
Except as provided by Section 228.2015, the department may not
operate a nontolled state highway or a segment of a nontolled state
highway as a toll project, and may not transfer a highway or segment
to another entity for operation as a toll project, unless: (1) the commission by order designated the highway or
segment as a toll project before the contract to construct the
highway or segment was awarded; (2) the highway or segment was open to traffic as a
turnpike project on or before September 1, 2005; (3) the project was designated as a toll project in a
plan or program of a metropolitan planning organization on or
before September 1, 2005; (4) the highway or segment is reconstructed so that
the number of nontolled lanes on the highway or segment is greater
than or equal to the number in existence before the reconstruction; (5) a facility is constructed adjacent to the highway
or segment so that the number of nontolled lanes on the converted
highway or segment and the adjacent facility together is greater
than or equal to the number in existence on the converted highway or
segment before the conversion; or (6) the commission converts the highway or segment to
a toll facility by: (A) making the determination required by Section
228.202; (B) conducting the hearing required by Section
228.203; and (C) obtaining county and voter approval as
required by Sections 228.207 and 228.208. Sec. 228.2015. LIMITATION TRANSITION. (a) Notwithstanding
Section 228.201, the department may operate a nontolled state
highway or a segment of a nontolled state highway as a toll project
if: (1) a construction contract was awarded for the
highway or segment before September 1, 2005; (2) the highway or segment had not at any time before
September 1, 2005, been open to traffic; and (3) the commission designated the highway or segment
as a toll project before the earlier of: (A) the date the highway or segment is opened to
traffic; or (B) September 1, 2005. (b) This section expires September 1, 2006. SECTION 2.37. Section 362.0041, Transportation Code, is
transferred to Subchapter E, Chapter 228, Transportation Code,
redesignated as Sections 228.202-228.208, and amended to read as
follows:
Sec. 228.202 [362.0041 ]. COMMISSION DETERMINATION [CONVERSION OF PROJECTS ]. The [(a) Except as provided in
Subsections (d) and (g), the ] commission may by order convert a nontolled state highway or a segment of a nontolled state highway [the free state highway system ] to a toll project [facility ] if it
determines that the conversion will improve overall mobility in the
region or is the most feasible and economic means to accomplish
necessary expansion, improvements, or extensions to that segment of
the state highway system. Sec. 228.203. PUBLIC HEARING. [(b) ] Prior to converting a state highway or a segment of a[the ] state highway [ system ] under
this subchapter [section ], the commission shall conduct a public
hearing for the purpose of receiving comments from interested
persons concerning the proposed conversion [transfer ]. Notice of
the hearing shall be published in the Texas Register, one or more
newspapers of general circulation, and a newspaper, if any,
published in the county or counties in which the involved highway is
located. Sec. 228.204. RULES. [(c) ] The commission shall adopt
rules implementing this subchapter [section ], including criteria
and guidelines for the approval of a conversion of a highway. Sec. 228.205. QUEEN ISABELLA CAUSEWAY. [(d) ] The
commission may not convert the Queen Isabella Causeway in Cameron
County to a toll project [facility ]. Sec. 228.206. TOLL REVENUE. [(e) Subchapter G, Chapter
361, applies to a highway converted to a toll facility under this
section. [(f) ] Toll revenue collected under this section:
(1) shall be deposited in the state highway fund;
(2) may be used by the department to finance the
improvement, extension, expansion, or operation of the converted
segment of highway and may not be collected except for those
purposes; and
(3) is exempt from the application of Section 403.095,
Government Code. Sec. 228.207. COUNTY AND VOTER APPROVAL. [(g) ] The
commission may only convert a state highway or a segment of a[the ]
state highway [ system ] under this subchapter [section ] if the
conversion is approved by :(1) the commissioners court of each county within
which the highway or segment is located ; and (2) the qualified voters who vote in an election under
Section 228.208 and who reside in the limits of: (A) a county if any part of the highway or segment
to be converted is located in an unincorporated area of the county;
or (B) a municipality in which the highway or
segment to be converted is wholly located .Sec. 228.208. ELECTION TO APPROVE CONVERSION. (a) If
notified by the department of the proposed conversion of a highway
or segment under this subchapter, and after approval of the
conversion by the appropriate commissioners courts as required by
Section 228.207(1), the commissioners court of each county
described by Section 228.207(2)(A) or the governing body of a
municipality described by Section 228.207(2)(B), as applicable,
shall call an election for the approval or disapproval of the
conversion. (b) If a county or municipality orders an election, the
county or municipality shall publish notice of the election in a
newspaper of general circulation published in the county or
municipality at least once each week for three consecutive weeks,
with the first publication occurring at least 21 days before the
date of the election. (c) An order or resolution ordering an election and the
election notice required by Subsection (b) must show, in addition
to the requirements of the Election Code, the location of each
polling place and the hours that the polls will be open. (d) The proposition submitted in the election must
distinctly state the highway or segment proposed to be converted
and the limits of that highway or segment. (e) At an election ordered under this section, the ballots
shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition:
"The conversion of (highway) from (beginning location) to (ending
location) to a toll project." (f) A proposed conversion is approved only if it is approved
by a majority of the votes cast. (g) A notice of the election and a certified copy of the
order canvassing the election results shall be sent to the
commission.

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