Proponents of higher taxes, less government accountability and no transparency gathered in Austin yesterday at the behest of their ally State Sen. John Carona. The cheerleading for bad policy and reckless economics lasted all day.

The shills for higher taxes allegedly want to solve the problems of congestion. Allegedly. Their “solutions” don’t solve the problems they suggest, and the problems they use as the basis for their solutions are going away.

But don’t let facts interfere with Sen. Carona, who organized the hearing and chairs the Senate’s committee on transportation. He doesn’t appear actually interested in solutions; he just wants more money flowing into government coffers.

Carona wants to put the gasoline on a permenant increase. Under his plan, the tax rate would grow larger and larger every year, without any legislative action. Automatic tax rate increases are morally repugnant.

But he also supports an effort to let local governments hike taxes and fees even higher. All so they can fund… Whatever they please. No questions, no accountability, no transparency — just more money for government.

It’s as if Carona’s crusade for higher taxes and irresponsible transportation policy has taken on the zeal of a religious crusade. A crusade that will not tolerate dissent.

That explains why he stacked the deck of invited testimony with shills for big government and bigger taxes; his tender ear couldn’t handle much criticism of his favored path to hgiher government revenues.

He packed his acolytes in at the beginning, and only at the end of the day allowed critics to testify; hoping they would go away.

He certainly doesn’t want anyone questioning the lack of transparency in local transportation spending. Nor will Carona allow for demands of greater accountability and prioritization. He just wants more money.

Solutions exist to solve the congestion and mobility woes of Texas without massive tax grabs. Start with little things, like ending the 22 percent of diversions out of the gas tax. Move then to big things, like demanding full accountability for how all transportation dollars are spent (state and local). And then to even bigger things like strict accountability so that congestion relief and mobility enhance are metrics for funding, not rhetoric for taxing.

What John Carona and his allies in municipal government don’t want folks to consider are the effect higher gasoline taxes would have on lower-income Texans or small business (disastrous). They also don’t want folks knowing the flashpoint Dallas-Fort Worth congestion problems are going away (they are; TxDOT has either let or committed let this year all transportation projects in the Metroplex).

The problem is that these folks don’t want to solve congestion and mobility problems, they want to build costly, inefficient rail lines.

Their rhetoric suggests, without promising, that new gas-tax dollars would flow to roads. Not true. Remember that the plan actually started out as as “Rail for North Texas,” and that proponents like Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck still say they want to push people off the road and into government-run trains.

Facts aren’t fun for these folks. Remember, nearly every Republican lawmaker opposes this tax-grab. And that the Texas House overwhelmingly defeated it as public transportation policy. And that Texas Republican Party is on record opposing it. And the list goes on.

Sen. Carona can write the record of the legislature to ignore reality, he can airbrush away photos of the opposition, but he cannot change reality. Texans understand that the plan he is pushing costs too much, and does too little.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

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


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