TURF Newsletter – January 30, 2014

Trans Texas Corridor back… AGAIN

TxDOT Study maps look eerily similar to TTC


TxDOT is hosting public meetings along the I-35 corridor to solicit public feedback on its Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study. Their documents show a map of a passenger rail in the I-35 corridor from Brownsville, McAllen, and Laredo, Texas, up into Oklahoma — just like the original Trans Texas Corridor!

If you can attend any of the meetings (see remaining schedule below). Please do so.


Please submit public comments opposing any passenger rail throughout our state. The eminent domain and lack of proven feasibility of any these projects is grounds enough to nix it. But the possibility remains that it could fall into the hands of a foreign corporation. Both China and Japan are possible players in bringing passenger rail to Texas.

So tell them you want the ‘No Build’ option!

Submit public comment here



Participate in Online Meeting here

Laredo, TX

Thursday, January 30
6 – 8 p.m.
Texas A&M Int’l University
5201 University Blvd.

Arlington, TX

Wednesday, February 5
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
N. Central Texas COG
616 Six Flags Dr.

San Antonio, TX

Thursday, February 6
6 – 8 p.m.
Via Metro Transit Center
1021 San Pedro Ave.

Plus, TxDOT is hosting TWO public meetings in Oklahoma!


Texas’-own ‘baby-TARP’ bailout

Power companies want taxpayer bailouts to cover profits that never materialized!

money_parachute.jpgCourtesy of Empower Texans:

Right now the Lone Star State is under assault from multi-billion dollar electricity generators and Wall Street firms pushing the state’s Public Utility Commission to impose what amounts to a $4 billion per year electricity tax on Texas consumers.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation has studied the issue extensively, and their findings are disturbing.

Under the guise of a misguided regulatory scheme called “capacity markets,” that $4 billion hit to taxpayers is nothing more than corporate welfaredesigned to bailout companies that aren’t seeing the profits they expected.

As Daniel Greer at AgendaWise.com put it: “Capacity markets are a scheme to keep obsolete electricity infrastructure profitable through taxpayer subsidies.”

Oh, good: Texas’ own baby-TARP.


Texas Energy Report: PUC delays hearing until May due to public opposition.


DONNA CAMPBELL continues to LIE about her record on tolls

When asked what happened to her promise to fix 281 without tolls, Campbell’s answer: “That’s not going to happen”

Campbell voted pro-toll 4 out of 5 times.

At the Texas Senate District 25 debate Monday evening, Sen. Donna Campbell continued her quest to mislead voters about her record on tolls. She claimed her legislation removed TxDOT’s ability to toll existing freeways. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Afterwards, she made it clear when I asked what happened to what she said was her number one priority of fixing 281 without tolls, she rudely answered: “That’s not going to happen“! She started to accept tolls on 281 less than 6 months in office. She now defends tolls on 281 as inevitable.

The truth about Donna Campbell

Campbell ran as anti-toll and pledged not to raise taxes. She broke both promises. Campbell voted pro-toll 4 out of 5 times and she voted to hike the Bexar County vehicle registration fee by $10 (HB 1573), which she amended the bill in committee to specifically direct that money, no strings attached, to the county toll authority called the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (RMA). HB 1573 did NOT include any provision to prohibit this money from being used on toll roads, nor did it require a public vote. Bexar County fee hike was the ONLY fee hike bill that did not require a public vote.

The published toll rates to use our area highways will be 17 cents a mile up to 50 cents a mile. That’s like adding $5 to every gallon of gas you buy and thousands a year in new taxes just to get to work! None of our area tollways are toll viable, so in order to get them off the ground, the Alamo RMA needed tax money to subsidize them.

A one-billion dollar toll financing plan was announced in November to use the new vehicle registration fee hike revenues to subsidize toll lanes on I-10 & 281 (Loop 1604 and I-35 in the district are also slated to be tolled). This new plan using the fee hike money gives life to the toll projects that were faltering. Now they’ll use TAX money to build TOLL roads, which is aDOUBLE TAX! If tax money is used to build the road it should be a free road, not a toll road.

The RMA’s primary mission is to build toll projects, but it can also build transit and rail projects as well as bike and pedestrian facilities and more. The RMAs have broader powers than the ATD, and can even directly take loans from and enter into agreements with foreign governments for a broad range of transportation projects. Donna Campbell gave this powerful, unelected, unaccountable agency a $12 million a year revenue stream to do all of the above, without voter approval.

Campbell also authored SB 1029 which, as filed, would have prevented tolls on existing roads. But she amended the bill to carry forward 5 loopholes that give permission to toll existing freeways in a variety of circumstances, including all the current toll projects planned for Bexar County. The bill ended upremoving the public vote for freeway-to-tollway conversions, making the current statute even worse and making it near impossible for the taxpayers to stop unwanted toll projects.

Local transportation policy board plans show two existing freeway lanes will be tolled on 281 south of Stone Oak Pkwy and all existing freeway lanes will be tolled north of Stone Oak Pkwy. Therefore, existing freeway lanes WILL BE TOLLED despite Campbell’s legislation – using the new tax hike revenue from HB 1573 that she amended and voted for (according to currently available plans).

Campbell also voted for SB 1110 (note definition of transportation project broadened to include turnpikes, transit and rail here), which specifically allowsproperty tax appraisal increases to be used to subsidize toll roads through Transportation Reinvestment Zones. Existing statute prior to the session didn’t allow property taxes to be used to subsidize toll projects (only pass-through freeway projects), but the bill she voted for last year, specifically expands the use of property taxes as well as sales taxes in the zone to be used for toll projects (even transit, rail, hike & bike facilities, and these taxes can be pledged to PRIVATE entities – one of these corporate toll roads called public private partnerships that extract as much as 75 cents a mile to access our public roads).

Even worse, the county or city can hand out tax abatements to their buddies in the zone (corporate welfare – government picking winners and losers).

It’s a BAD deal for taxpayers!

So now, not only can the vehicle registration fee hike money be used to subsidize loser toll projects, so can property tax and sales taxes, but you may never be able to afford to actually use any of these toll roads our tax money built – so we’re facing double, even triple or quadruple taxation to drive on a single stretch of highway!

Elisa Chan is the only candidate that’s authentically anti-toll. Find out more here.


Subscribe to Terri’s columns by visiting her bio page and click ‘subscribe’ below the bio text…

Chairman Ted Houghton.

TxDOT sticks to its ‘Toll roads or no roads’ agenda at this year’s Transportation Forum




Land deals along North TX tollways draws investigation
Grand Pkwy (segment E) opens in Houston
Road for Exxon Mobil not state priority list
WASTE: $1 million bus stop halted
Congress audits automakers for privacy breaches with GPS tracking


Help TURF fight for you

checkbook-pen.jpgPlease consider a donation to support the work Texas TURF does on behalf of taxpayers. We need the resources to STOP tolls on existing roads & to get pro-taxpayer transportation policies and reforms in place.

With HUNDREDS of toll projects planned in Texas, EVERYONE will be effected by these NEW taxes!

Or send in a check to:
PO Box 29254
San Antonio, TX 78229-0254

“I…place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared… Taxation follows that, and in its turn wretchedness and oppression.”

Thomas Jefferson,
Letter to William Plumer, 1816