The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Columns

February 7, 2008

Senators unhappy with TxDOT

Sometimes the truth just has a way of coming to light.

A public information officer with the Texas Department of Transportation this week wrote a column in the Herald-Press describing the financial woes facing TxDOT and how because of those problems the state’s transportation department doesn’t have the money to deal with many of the state’s transportation issues.

Apparently, several of the state’s senators do not feel that is the case at all. David Dewhurst called out the state’s interim chairwoman of the Texas Transportation Commission, Hope Andrade, on this very issue, according to a story from the Associated Press.

In December, Andrade issued a warning of a budgetary shortfall for TxDOT, which included a decision to postpone new highway projects and focus the department’s attention on existing roads.

The state’s lieutenant governor would have none of that. In a letter to Andrade, as reported by the AP, Dewhurst told her the forecast used to project a $3.6 billion revenue shortfall by the year 2015 “does not show the complete financial picture.”

In other words, TxDOT has an agenda and is playing politics with the state’s tax dollars, or so some of the state’s top senators believe, at least according to chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, “This is screwed up. I understand how to do a cash flow statement. I understand how to do an income statement. This isn’t one of them. This is really bad.”

What’s causing this consternation of the senators is the refusal of TxDOT to include $9 billion in bonds set aside by the Legislature, including $5 billion approved by the voters.

Instead, the department continues to press for the toll-road option, above elected official and public outcry.

One senator even got personal with TxDOT in a comment reported by the AP, “Texans today saw convincing evidence of a fact many of us have known — they cannot trust the Texas Department of Transportation or the policies that are consigning Texas to inadequate roads and privatized toll ways,” said Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin.

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