by Patrick Driscoll, San Antonio Express
The mighty Texas Department of Transportation, accused of throwing a funding tantrum to get its way on toll roads and private leases, has cautiously stepped back in the face of mightier state lawmakers.Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and other legislative leaders, busy taking a closer look at tolling strategies, suspect TxDOT oversold its "we're broke" posture and have repeatedly insisted the agency instead buckle down and secure billions of dollars in available bonds. The lawmakers promise to boost funding to cover the payments.
State transportation commissioners, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to oversee TxDOT, were still bristling Thursday.
"The pressure to borrow more and more is like asking someone to load up your credit card and just hope that you'll get a raise next year to cover the payments," Commissioner Ted Houghton is quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Nevertheless, TxDOT staff told commissioners Thursday it might be best to at least to revisit a $17 billion budget for maintenance and redirect $5 billion back into construction. Officials had recently shut down funding flows for construction, saying cash was way too short.
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