When people talk about Republican elected officials betraying conservative principles and the trust of their voters, one need look no further than State Sen. John Carona of Dallas. Just a week ago he was promising to include taxpayer protections and transparency in the massive tax-hike and fee-grab bill he was carrying for government spenders. As he presents the legislation to his transportation committee, those protections are gone.

Senate Bill 855 – promoted by taxpayer-funded lobbyists, liberal activists and others who profit off the taxpayer – would raise and create a half-dozen new taxes and fees initially just on folks in Dallas-Fort Worth. That during the worst economic crisis in decades. All to fund not more road construction, but waste-laden, inefficient “light-rail” projects that have yet to reduce congestion of improve safety.

Carona wrote in the Dallas Morning News yesterday that his tax and fee hike would cost taxpayers $10 a year. What nonsense! One wonders if he managed to keep a straight face while his staffers penned such bilge. Or maybe he just doesn’t know what his own legislation says. After all, he has been supporting hiking gas taxes by up to 10-cents-per-gallon. That would represent at least $100 per car. Not to mention his doubling of drivers license fees, the $250 “new resident” fee…The list goes on and on. Just a week ago I was praising Carona for at least saying he would include some basic protections for taxpayers in the legislation, such as requiring a minimum threshold for voter turnout. Those protections? Nowhere to be found.

Apparently Carona’s friends in the tax-funded lobby didn’t want pesky taxpayers involved. Or he was blowing smoke a week ago. Or both. Local governments seeking to implement Carona’s bill will be free to do so with the smallest of turn-outs, incentivizing cities to have elections on days designed to disenfranchise voters. Carona claims he supports this as a “local option” for meeting transportation needs. Too bad he isn’t requiring transparency and demands the dollars would be used for proven congestion relief. As a state senator, he has an obligation to protect the citizens from big government, not provide another tool for irresponsible spending and economy-killing taxes.

Regardless, Carona’s Senate Bill 855 brings new (and higher) taxes and fees, with no taxpayer protections, no end to the gas-tax diversions. It’s full employment for lobbyists, and a raw deal for taxpayers.

The legislation is being heard today in the Senate Transportation committee, which Carona chairs, then it will be off to the Senate floor. In the Texas House, Tarrant County’s Vicki Truitt is carrying an equally rotten version. We can only hope Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Speaker Straus and Gov. Perry will stop this train before smashes taxpayers to pieces.

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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