Fellow Grassroots Texans:
Please find below an URGENT message from Terri Hall of T.U.R.F.
PROPERTY TAX TO BUILD TOLL ROADS?
This week, the full Texas House will vote on whether or not to use property taxes & sales taxes to build toll roads using Transportation Reinvestment Zones (TRZs). That means they’ll build the road with property tax, but will charge you a TOLL to drive on it – another DOUBLE TAX scheme. It also expands the use of TRZs to fund transit, rail (think street car), even parking lots!
We DEFEATED the expansion of TRZs known as Prop 4 on the Constitutional Amendment election in November 2011 (read about it here), so we can certainly do it again! The senate version of this bill already passed the Senate. Every member of the Senate voted FOR it, so stopping this in the House is a MUST!
It’s up to YOU to help us STOP it in the House!
ACTION ITEM #1:
Call your State Representative & make sure they vote AGAINST HB 1716 which allows the use of property tax & sales tax to build toll roads!
>>Find out who your STATE representative is here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx
>>You can email using this formula:
(Be sure to eliminate any spaces in the actual email address. Include your full name, address, & phone in all written correspondence.)
NOTE: If Speaker Joe Straus is your State Rep., email him here: firstname.lastname@example.org
He does NOT vote on bills, but controls the calendar and which bills come to the floor for a vote.
>>Call the Capitol Switchboard – (512) 463-4630 (between 8 AM – 5 PM)
(Give them your zip code & they can connect you to your state rep.)
See below for more urgent
ACTION ITEMS THIS WEEK
Postcards from the lege…
The Texas House Appropriations Committee REJECTED Governor Rick Perry’s attempt, this week, at BUSTING the State’s Constitutional spending cap by tapping the Rainy Day Fund to backstop toxic toll projects that can’t pay for themselves with just toll users. The Governor wants to use YOUR tax money to build toll roads, and charge you AGAIN (with tolls) to actually drive on them. The budget committee did NOT vote out Perry’s bill, HB 3665, but rather a bill that REJECTS using our tax money to build toll roads, HB 3664.
We have NOT seen the text of the committee substitute bill (not yet available to the public), but we understand it may capture some of the EXISTING vehicle sales tax revenue for roads (currently used to fund general govt, not roads) and possibly end some of the gas tax diversions. However, this bill includes a BIG catch -$30 vehicle registration FEE HIKE as well as hikes to the overweight truck permit fees to raise some of the needed money for roads and to help pay-off the state’s road debt of $31 billion. There is sufficient tax money already collected (vehicles sales tax and gas tax) to SOLVE the road funding shortfalls with EXISTING tax revenues, but budget writers DO NOT want to cut the general budget $4 billion in order to transfer that money to roads & properly fund our state highway system without tolls.
It’s easier to toll everything and hand our roads to foreign companies to do the tax collecting, to tap local property tax and sales tax than to exercise fiscal discipline.
Many House members, the state Republican Party, and the Governor have stated they DO NOT support any fee hikes. Your state legislators need to hear from you on this.
Call the Capitol Switchboard (between 8 AM – 5 PM) at (512) 463-4630 and they can help you reach your state lawmakers.
ACTION ITEM #2
Please include your full name, address, phone in emails.
GOOD BILL ALERT!
1) Contact the House Transportation Committee here with this message:
“Vote ‘YES’ on HB 3343 (by Lois Kolkhorst) to take take tolls off roads when they’re PAID FOR & protect Texans from tolls in perpetuity & vote ‘YES’ on HB 2870 (by Giovanni Capriglione) that makes vital traffic forecasts & the financial viability of toll projects PUBLIC, ending the practice of keeping them SECRET from taxpayers!”
BAD BILL ALERT!
2) Contact the Senate Transportation Committee here with this message:
“Vote ‘No’ on the ‘complete streets’ bill, SB 28, which is an anti-car Agenda 21 mandate to SHRINK auto capacity and engage in social engineering to force people out of their cars and onto their feet, a bike, or mass transit.”
GET YOUR POSITION ON THE OFFICIAL RECORD…
If you can make it to the Capitol to officially register FOR or AGAINST these bills, please do so.
You can register & leave or stay to orally testify.
FOR HOUSE BILLS –
Register FOR or AGAINST a bill at one of the kiosks that look like an iPad in the hallway behind the committee rooms. Once they say public testimony is CLOSED, registration or testimony for/against a bill will NOT be accepted into the official record.
FOR SENATE BILLS –
Register FOR or AGAINST the bill by filling out separate cards, one for each bill, at the back of the committee room & then hand to clerk at the front of the committee room BEFORE THEY CALL THE BILL UP FOR A HEARING OR CLOSE PUBLIC TESTIMONY! Once they say public testimony is CLOSED, registration or testimony for/against a bill will NOT be accepted into the official record.
GOOD BILLS TO BE HEARD THIS WEEK
(Both to be heard in House Transportation Committee, Tuesday, April 23 @ 8 AM in Rm. E2.012)
HB 3343 (Kolkhorst) – Tolls should come off the road when the road is paid for. In fact, Article I Section 26 of the Texas Constitution prohibits monopolies and perpetuities. So passing this bill will put our toll policies in line with the Constitution.
The big reason that TxDOT and RMAs, etc. oppose this bill is precisely because they plan to charge Texans tolls in perpetuity. Last session lawmakers enacted legislation authorizing ‘system financing’ – the net effect is to allow tolls to stay in place even after the road is paid for. Toll agencies can use toll revenues from one segment or road to fund or to be pledged to another. So the toll cannot come off the original road because its toll revenue is the backstop to other toll projects.
But Texans deserve truth in taxation and to have the tolls they pay go to the road they’re driving on, not a bunch of other roads they may never use. They shouldn’t be charged perpetual tolls to help pay for other roads/projects when their road has been paid for. HB 3343 also ensures toll entities don’t refinance their toll debt over and over and push out the pay-off date so that it’s never truly “paid off.”
Since ‘system financing’ runs afoul of the Texas Constitution. Art I, Sec 26 which gives Texans protection from monopolies and perpetuities, HB 3343, enforces the Texas Constitution.
HB 2870 (Capriglione) – Makes vital traffic forecasts & the financial viability of toll projects PUBLIC, ending the practice of keeping them SECRET from taxpayers. This would require basic transparency and truth in taxation as it pertains to toll projects. Even lawmakers and MPO board members are kept in the DARK about the financial viability of toll projects due to a state law that allows them to keep the financial guts of these projects SECRET from the public. This bill repeals that law.
BAD BILLS TO BE HEARD THIS WEEK
(This is the ONLY bill that will be heard in the Senate Transportation Committee on WEDNESDAY, April 24 in Rm E1.016, at 8:00 AM)
SB 28 – (Zaffirini) – This is the senate version of the ‘complete streets’ bill, which is an anti-car Agenda 21 mandate to SHRINK auto capacity and engage in social engineering to force people out of their cars and onto their feet, a bike, or mass transit. The House Transportation Committee lacked the votes to pass it out of committee last week.
One of the documents cited in the bill to be used as a guideline for TxDOT to adopt rules to implement the policy says: “Achieving system-wide transportation capacity by using a high level of multimodal network connectivity, serving walkable communities with appropriately spaced and properly sized pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicular components rather than by increasing the vehicular capacity of individual thoroughfares…AND…Building entries that front directly onto the sidewalk without parking between entries and the public right of way.”
A complete list of good & bad bills is linked on the ‘Grassroots Action Center’ page at www.TexasTURF.org .