Thursday, May 03, 2007

it tolls for thee

There are 25 days left in the session, and it looks like we have our first real showdown between the Legislature and the Governor--a major transportation bill that flies in the face of the Governor’s transportation policy. Funny thing is . . . the Legislature’s offering is different than I expected. Since the last session [and over the campaign season] the message from the people seemed to say “we don’t want to sell our roads to private interests.” Or maybe it was more like, “we don’t want to sell our roads to foreign private interests.” The Lege heard the people and responded with a barrage of legislation to curtail or eliminate the state department of transportation’s ability to enter into long-term toll concession agreements with private entities. However, the bill the Lege sent to the Governor says, “we don’t mind selling our roads, we just don’t want TxDOT doing it for us.” The initial offering is a bill that, for the next two years, would prohibit the state or a local tolling authority from entering into any agreement with a private entity that allows the private entity to operate a toll road and collect the tolls, but with a number of exemptions for certain regional toll projects in the DFW area. The Governor doesn’t like this because the bill takes power to implement transportation policy away from the state [and the Executive Branch] and gives it to the locals. The Gov is expected to veto. With 25 days left, the Lege has the time and (it appears) the support to override the veto. The Governor has less time [less than 10 days now] to “influence” enough senators to block the veto [he only needs 11 of 31]. This should be interesting.



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