Using self-deprecating humor to make light of Texans’ frustrations with traffic congestion, Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott recently debuted a new ad highlighting his thoughts on future transportation funding, including his view on legislative “pet projects.” His plan for getting more cars moving: use existing revenue more responsibly by dedicating all transportation funds towards road construction, while also opposing new taxes, fees, or tolls.
Will legislators join Mr. Abbott demanding existing revenues be spent only on road construction without raising taxes or creating new tolls? Or will they kowtow to the big-spending crowd seeking to hike the gas tax while TxDOT continues down the path of wasteful and frivolous spending?
Abbott’s ad (which can be viewed below) begins with a quip from the attorney general stating, “A guy in a wheelchair can move faster than traffic on some roads in Texas.” Abbott himself is a paraplegic, having been injured while jogging nearly 30 years ago.
While the 30-second clip is light on specifics, including whether Mr. Abbott supports dedicating taxes derived from the sale of motor vehicles to the State Highway Fund, his explicit call for no new taxes should be welcome news to taxpayers.
Currently, 25% of the state’s gasoline tax is constitutionally diverted to public education. Of the portion of gas tax revenue that does make it into the state’s highway fund (a.k.a. Fund 006), even more is diverted away to other agencies for purposes unrelated to the construction of roads and vehicular bridges.
Even the money that finally makes its way into TxDOT’s coffers is wasted on frivolous projects and boondoggles that do nothing to aid congestion relief across the state. Look no further than the $272 million recently approved by TxDOT commissioners for transit use, including Cap Metro in Austin, DART in the Metroplex, and a new streetcar in El Paso. And if that isn’t enough, there’s the $50 million appropriations request from TxDOT to study jetpacks, hyper-loops, and hover cars.
Despite the numerous examples of waste coming from the state’s transportation agency, there are still Republicans calling for higher taxes and more spending on transportation as if TxDOT is completely strapped for cash.
State Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Longview) is arguably most known in the Capitol for his fondness of tax increases. He’s been calling for higher taxes for years, while mocking conservatives like Abbott who think new taxes aren’t the answer.
Do you know where your legislators stand on solving our state’s transportation issues? Now is the time to start asking.