When government resorts to advertising its programs and services, that’s a sure sign government has gotten just a little too big. 

Texas bureaucrats spend millions every year advertising the Children’s Health Insurance Program and other welfare assistance activities. They literally beg people to feed at the government trough. 

Well, now comes word that the Texas Department of Transportation is launching a multi-million-dollar ad campaign designed to convince Texans of the validity of toll-roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor. Of course, the toll-road plans and TTC are, at best, controversial. 

(Now, in interest of full disclosure, I tend to like toll-roads as a matter of policy, when they are done right. Toll roads tend to ensure that true transportation needs are met through sound market economics, rather than relying on the political games that have resulted in gross inefficiencies with road dollars in years-past.) 

Regardless of what one thinks about toll roads or the TTC, it is abundantly clear this not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. Just like government shouldn’t use tax dollars to hire lobbyists (which many cities, school districts, universities and the like do, under the guise of “government relations”), it’s nauseating to think of government using our own money to lobby us on policy positions. 

Even more nauseating are those who are defending it, like the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Mike Krusee of Round Rock.  He is no stranger to fiscal irresponsibility, as he scored a failing 64 on the TFR Responsibility Index. 

Fortunately, there are still a few voices of reason left in the Capitol.  Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) is quoted by the Houston Chronicle as rather reasonably saying, “TxDOT is consistently telling us we have no money to build highways, yet they seem to be spending a lot of money on … ad campaigns.” (Rep. Kolkhorst scored an 85.7 on the TFR Index.) 

State agencies should simply do their jobs; in the case of TxDOT, that’s build roads, not try to influence public opinion.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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