Turning Freeways into Tollroads and Double Taxing

Three issues regarding roads in Texas are listed here.  The first one is specific to the North Texas Area.  This info comes by way of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF)

URGENT ACTION ITEM #1  

Contact the House Transportation Committee here & ask them to:
“Vote ‘No’ on SB 1018 that gives the North Texas Tollway Authority access to TAX money to subsidize its tollways. Tolls would no longer be paying for the roads, ALL Texans would be subsidizing the tollways with TAX money, but they’d have to pay a toll, too, to drive on them.”

(NOTE: Include your full name & address in your email)

For those in the DFW area, CALL the North TexasHouse members on the Committee –
Rep Linda Harper-Brown – (512) 463-0641
Rep. Cindy Burkett – (512) 463-0464
Rep. Yvonne Davis – (512) 463-0598

Ask them to: “Vote ‘No’ on SB 1018 that gives the North Texas Tollway Authority access to TAX money to subsidize its tollways. Tolls would no longer be paying for the roads, ALL Texans would be subsidizing the tollways with TAX money, but they’d have to pay a toll, too, to drive on them.”

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SB 1018 – (Carona, carried by Rep. Harper-Brown in House) – This bill deliberately shifts the NTTA away from its successful, traditional ‘user fee’ based turnpike model funded solely with revenue bonds, and now gives them access to TAX money to subsidize its toll projects. Building a road with tax money turns the toll from a ‘user fee’ into a TAX, a DOUBLE TAX! This effects EVERY corner of the state since now STATE money can be used to subsidize NTTA toll projects, which takes already scarce road funds away from other parts of the state highway system.

The bill gives the NTTA sweeping new powers, including the ability to capture property taxes & sales taxes in a Transportation Reinvestment Zone (TRZ) to pay for toll roads & even ‘aesthetic improvements’ in the zone (which are not defined and could mean anything), as well as to gain access to NEW taxing districts through other governmental entities, including the STATE and allows those entities to issue NEW DEBT to subsidize NTTA toll projects (Sec. 30 of the bill).

The bill lets the NTTA continue to allow a private company to takeover any of its turnpikes or toll projects (think Cintra, who really wants Hwy 121 & I-35) without taxpayers’ consent. Allows excess revenue to be put into a general fund and spent for whatever purpose they want. Allows tolls collected from one turnpike/project to be spent on another. Changes definition of a turnpike to toll project to give NTTA ability to get away from their traditional turnpike model and get into hybrid toll projects involving adding toll lanes to existing roadways. Can issue bonds to pay-off other bonds (uses borrowed money to pay-off other borrowed money, like using a credit card to pay-off another credit card). Can transfer part of a turnpike or project to another governmental entity who can levy taxes to pay bonds to subsidize the toll project.

The bill’s fiscal note states: “The bill would specify that bonds issued by the NTTA would be considered authorized investments for state and local government entities. The bill would allow governmental entities to create a taxing district to produce revenues for their participation in a tollway project with NTTA.”

Governmental entities, nor their pensioners, should NOT be investors in risky, speculative toll projects, which, in effect, puts taxpayers on the hook for the losses. Creating NEW taxing districts so that taxpayers will be forced to subsidize loser toll projects is anti-taxpayer and unacceptable.

HB 1675 – (Bonnen, carried by Nichols in the Senate) – Up for a hearing this Wednesday in Senate Transportation Committee at 7:30 AM in RM E1.016.

This SNEAKY bill was sent to the Govt Efficiency and Reform Committee in the House, but showed up in Transportation in the Senate. Why? Buried in the bill behind sunset info on water authorities and chiropractor boards, it pushes TxDOT’s next sunset review date from next session to 2017! So holding this agency accountable & enacting any reforms would be pushed out another 4 years when the legislature specifically wanted them to have a short leash and undergo review in 2015. We’re betting few if any House members noticed this. Now its in the pro-toll, pro-TxDOT train wreck senate where it will most assuredly pass…

URGENT ACTION ITEM #2

>> Call Sen. Donna Campbell at (512) 463-0125 & ask her to:

“Eliminate ALL loopholes or pull down SB 1029 that would allow FREE lanes on hundreds of TX roadways to be converted to TOLL lanes!”
>> She needs to either eliminate the exceptions or WITHDRAW THE BILL!
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URGENT ACTION ITEM #3

>> Contact the House Transportation Committee here & ask them to:
“Restore the ORIGINAL language of SB 1253 or KILL THE BILL! As written the bill would allow FREEway main lanes to be DOWNGRADED to frontage roads with permanent STOP LIGHTS and SLOWER speed limits as happened to Hwy 183 in Lockhart when Cintra’s tollway, SH 130, was built.”
(NOTE: Be sure to include your full name & address in your email)

AND

Call Rep. Linda Harper-Brown

at (512) 463-0641 & ask her to restore the original language of SB 1253 or pull down the bill.
(Calls are best, even if you leave a message!)SB 1253 could be voted out of committee tomorrow. They suspended the posting rules to hear this bill tomorrow without proper public notice. It already passed the senate.

1 thought on “Turning Freeways into Tollroads and Double Taxing”

  1. SB 1730 is a TAX BILL disguised as a transportation bill. It is in a conference committee, and NEEDS TO DIE in conference committee!

    …(CONFERENCE COMMITTEE—A committee composed of five members from each house appointed by the respective presiding officers to resolve the differences between the house and senate versions of a measure when the originating chamber refuses to concur in the changes made by the opposite chamber. On reaching an agreement, the conferees issue a conference committee report that then is considered for approval by both houses.)

    Here are the conference committee members: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Committees/MemberShipConfCmte.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB%201730

    Contact these members and tell them NO to double taxation for transportation!

    TURF’s explanation can be found here: http://www.texasturf.org/grassroots-action-center/233-2013-83rd-legislative-session-texas

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