Lawmakers Differ on TxDOT Budget Cuts

by Harvey Kronberg
The Quorum Report

Key Senators say the cuts reflect transpoortation funding crunch, a House member says TxDOT using cuts to get their way on private toll roads.

TxDOT announced last week that it was proposing significant cutbacks in spending, mostly in what the agency spends on engineering consultants and acquisitions of right of way for future highway projects.

The logic is that with the federal government taking back transportation funds (what is known in the bureaucratic jargon as rescissions), the rising costs of construction materials and the increasing inadequacy of the motor fuels tax, many highway projects currently on the books simply won’t get built. So if no new funding is in the offing soon, TxDOT argues that it doesn'’t make sense to hire those engineers or to buy that right of way.

In the Legislature, lawmakers who were active in the highway funding debate last session were alternately dismayed or allayed by TxDOT’'s proposal.

House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) said he received no word of the impending cuts, claiming that he didn'’t know anything about them until a reporter called him for reaction. Chisum said such a move was "typical TxDOT. They don’t tell anybody anything; they just do what they want to do."

Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), author of the original amendment last session placing a two-year moratorium on public-private toll road partnerships, told QR that she, too, was not notified of TxDOT’s proposed cuts.

Kolkhorst was skeptical of TxDOT'’s stated motivation for the cuts. She said that she thought the transportation agency was trying to put the squeeze on lawmakers to force them toward public-private toll partnerships.

The agency thinks it "imperative that they create the crisis so that you can solve the crisis their way," she said. She added that the Texas 161 project in Dallas County was another example of TxDOT creating a crisis to force a resolution favorable to its position in favor of expanded private equity.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"they create the crisis"

BINGO ! Representative Kolkhorst.

TxDOT is up for review by the Texas Sunset Commission, lets all let all the Texas legislators what we think the Sunset Commission should do about TxDOT.

Let's Sunset the hell out of TxDOT !