The Games Politicos Play With Your Tax Dollars

Texas officials urge TxDOT
to issue $1.5B in bonds
for new roads


Gov. Rick Perry has joined leaders of the Texas Legislature in calling on the state transportation department to immediately issue about $1.5 billion in bonds to pay for more roads, a step the governor and department officials have resisted for months.

In a joint letter issued today by the governor's office, Mr. Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick urged transportation chairman Deirdre Delisi to take steps to issue the additional debt by as soon as September.

The extra debt has been a priority for lawmakers for nearly a year, ever since TxDOT began reining in spending as it confronted a long list of financial worries – from the growing construction costs, a soaring maintenance burden associated with Texas' aging roads, and a flat gas tax rate that hasn't been upped since 1991.

Despite those costs, and their own opposition to raising revenues, many lawmakers, including Mr. Dewhurst, accused TxDOT of painting an overly dire picture of its finances. The worry was that the poor-mouthing was aimed at weakening the legislature's opposition to toll roads as a new session looms in 2009.

For proof, many looked at the department's refusal to include in its financial plan the availability of the bonds, and to exclude another $5 billion in bonds made available by a constitutional amendment approved by voters last fall.

As TxDOT trimmed its spending, road projects got delayed across Texas, though in Dallas most of the impact was muted by the availability of money from the North Texas Tollway Authority.

Ms. Delisi, Mr. Perry's former chief of staff, insisted as recently as earlier this summer that issuing the extra debt without what she called a long-term solution would be irresponsible. TxDOT CFO James Bass warned that the bonds would cost so much interest over the next 20 years that their long-term effect would be negligible.

Gov. Perry, in an Austin speech in April, flatly refused to heed calls from Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and others to borrow more.

But Thursday's announcement changes all that, a spokesman for Gov. Perry said.

"The governor is tremendously pleased. We wanted a long-term solution," said spokeswoman Allison Castle.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Look for more political shifting by Slick Snake Perry over the next year or so- remember awhile back he announced his intention to run for governor AGAIN. He'll need those extra 4 years to complete his TTC contracts and pay off his goons.