In a devastating blow to proponents of higher local gasoline taxes and fees, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said yesterday that if elected governor in 2010 she won’t consider those schemes until after transportation spending is fully audited. Her comments were made in Dallas, the epicenter of the big-gas-tax movement.

Local officials there tried this legislative session get the authority to foist a bevy of fees and much higher gasoline taxes on their citizens to fund highly inefficient — though grossly expensive — projects like light-rail expansion.

Congestion is a real problem, but the high-tax solution proposed by State Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas), State Rep. Vicki Truitt (R-Southlake), and city and county bureaucrats were rebuffed by citizens and lawmakers alike. They would have thrown more money into opaque state, regional and local systems that don’t really use congestion-relief and mobility enhancement as measures for funding projects or tracking accountability.

The other Republicans in the race, incumbent Gov. Rick Perry and Debra Medina, have previously staked out opposition to a gas-tax hike in 2011.

For months, we at Empower Texans have been saying that all levels of transportation spending must be reviewed, made transparent and accountable long before any new taxes or revenue sources are considered.

According to the Dallas Morning News, rather than adopt the Carona/Truitt tax hike scheme, Sen. Hutchison

said she instead said she’d appoint a task force to study how efficient TxDOT uses the money it already gets, and then to evaluate whether news funds are needed.

That’s bad news for the big taxers, though Sen. Carona tried a happy spin by calling it “a starting point for discussion of the issues.” Funny that he, Truitt and the tax-funded lobbyists at HillCo weren’t interested in a discussion about spending priorities last session when trying to ram-rod their gas tax hike…

The gas-taxers got even worse news in the Fort Worth Star Telegram:

Campaign aides confirmed that, if [Hutchison] were to win in November, an audit of the department could not be completed in time for Hutchison to consider any tax increase during the 2011 session.

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."