TxDOT hearings continue into the evening, turn testy
After hours of mostly polite, if often pointed, questioning by members of the Sunset Advisory Commission, a hearing in Austin turned uglier late Tuesday.
Rep. Ruth McClendon, D-San Antonio, questioned the honesty of TxDOT executive director Amadeo Saenz when he said he couldn't immediately recall the details of State Highway 281 in south Texas. "After we started off on such a positive start, and after all this talk of honesty and transparency, you sit here in front of us and say you do not know."
No, Mr. Saenz repeated, he did not have the details in front of him, but said he would get the information and meet separately with the commission members when he did.
Ms. McClendon and the 11 other members of the advisory committee are grilling TxDOT today over allegations that the agency has lost its way.
Other areas of disagreement that led to sharp questioning by the lawmakers include the question whether TxDOT is illegally spending millions of dollars to advance its preference for toll roads and, in many cases, private toll roads.
State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, asked TxDOT executive Coby Chase how much the agency had spent in the past year on Keep Texas Moving, the agency's public campaign supporting its road-building agenda. "$4.5 million," he said, to the guffaws of some in the audience who have seized on the spending as evidence of the agency's improperly politicizing transportation.
State law prohibits state agencies from lobbying, and Rep. Kolkhorst said TxDOT spending money to promote toll roads is just as illegal as if the education department ran ads encouraging vouchers.Read the rest of the article HERE