Search Form
Now choose a category »

Public Statements

Issue Position: Make government accountable

Issue Position

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

The time is right to elect Texas's transportation leaders
There are few issues that incite passion within folks the way transportation does in Texas. With the explosion of growth we've experienced over the last few decades, our state leaders have failed to keep up and we suffer the consequences of this failure in the form of unending traffic congestion on a daily basis. The bottom line is that several things need to change when it comes to the way we go about providing one of the most basic functions of government. Experience shows that if you're not getting what you need from a group appointed to serve you, making them run for their positions will change the way they govern and make them more accountable to you.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is overseen by a five-member board, the Texas Transportation Commission, who are appointed by the governor to six-year terms. The Commission is charged with planning and choosing the location of all construction and maintenance of state roadways. Currently, they oversee an agency with a budget of $18.6 billion (2010-11 biennium). Over the years, the Commission has taken heat for promoting toll roads and other controversial construction financing methods, the failed Trans Texas Corridor project and for failing to listen to the citizens it's supposed to represent. TxDOT, the agency it oversees, has been accused of mismanagement of funds, arrogance in dealing with the people it is set up to serve and lacking transparency.

Historically, the Commission has consisted of political appointees who don't typically have transportation experience or knowledge. By virtue of being appointed, not elected, they are often most accountable to the governor who appointed them, not to the people of Texas. I think it's time to change that and put the power of deciding when and where to build state roads back in the hands of Texans.

If elected, I will pursue legislation to change the process of selecting the Commission from appointment by the governor to election by the people of Texas. Requiring that they each run for election will ensure they listen, be more responsive and completely accountable to their constituents.This legislation would require the following:

The Commission will consist of 3 commissioners, each elected statewide to at-large positions for 6 year terms.

* Like the Railroad Commission, one commissioner would be up for election every 2 years.
* This legislation would prohibit the Legislature from diverting any additional funds from the state gas tax fund, Fund 006, as they have since 1986.
* This legislation would require that the Legislature pay back every dollar of the $12 billion it has diverted from Fund 006 over the last 24 years.

As our population continues to grow, we need to ensure our transportation infrastructure grows with it. According to a recent study, Texas needs $315 billion in road construction and maintenance over the next 20 years. As citizens of Texas, we deserve to be part of the process in determining when, where and how our state roads are built. It's time to reform the system and make the Texas Transportation Commission accountable to each of the 25 million people who call Texas home. What do you think?

The time is right to elect Texas's transportation leaders

08/31/2010

3 Comments

Picture
By larsonforstaterep
There are few issues that incite passion within folks the way transportation does in Texas. With the explosion of growth we've experienced over the last few decades, our state leaders have failed to keep up and we suffer the consequences of this failure in the form of unending traffic congestion on a daily basis. The bottom line is that several things need to change when it comes to the way we go about providing one of the most basic functions of government. Experience shows that if you're not getting what you need from a group appointed to serve you, making them run for their positions will change the way they govern and make them more accountable to you.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is overseen by a five-member board, the Texas Transportation Commission, who are appointed by the governor to six-year terms. The Commission is charged with planning and choosing the location of all construction and maintenance of state roadways. Currently, they oversee an agency with a budget of $18.6 billion (2010-11 biennium). Over the years, the Commission has taken heat for promoting toll roads and other controversial construction financing methods, the failed Trans Texas Corridor project and for failing to listen to the citizens it's supposed to represent. TxDOT, the agency it oversees, has been accused of mismanagement of funds, arrogance in dealing with the people it is set up to serve and lacking transparency.

Historically, the Commission has consisted of political appointees who don't typically have transportation experience or knowledge. By virtue of being appointed, not elected, they are often most accountable to the governor who appointed them, not to the people of Texas. I think it's time to change that and put the power of deciding when and where to build state roads back in the hands of Texans.

If elected, I will pursue legislation to change the process of selecting the Commission from appointment by the governor to election by the people of Texas. Requiring that they each run for election will ensure they listen, be more responsive and completely accountable to their constituents.This legislation would require the following:

The Commission will consist of 3 commissioners, each elected statewide to at-large positions for 6 year terms.

* Like the Railroad Commission, one commissioner would be up for election every 2 years.
* This legislation would prohibit the Legislature from diverting any additional funds from the state gas tax fund, Fund 006, as they have since 1986.
* This legislation would require that the Legislature pay back every dollar of the $12 billion it has diverted from Fund 006 over the last 24 years.

As our population continues to grow, we need to ensure our transportation infrastructure grows with it. According to a recent study, Texas needs $315 billion in road construction and maintenance over the next 20 years. As citizens of Texas, we deserve to be part of the process in determining when, where and how our state roads are built. It's time to reform the system and make the Texas Transportation Commission accountable to each of the 25 million people who call Texas home. What do you think?

Texans deserve accountability!

Who do you feel is more accountable and responsive: someone who is elected to serve or someone who is appointed?

Our own intuition and numerous studies tell us that elected representatives are more accountable and far more likely to do what we, the voters, want because they risk being thrown out of office if they don't.

In Texas, most industries are regulated by different state agencies, many of which are lead by a board or commission appointed by the governor. For some agencies, this process seems to be sufficient, but for other agencies, especially those that oversee our basic needs, such as energy, water and transportation infrastructure, voters should choose the regulators.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC), which oversees electric utilities and telecommunication, is led by three commissioners who are appointed by the governor to six-year terms. By contrast, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), which regulates the oil and gas industry, is led by three commissioners who are elected by the people of Texas to six-year terms.

Currently, the PUC has the authority to do things that have greatly impact all Texans. It is in Texans' best interest that we elect the individuals making these decisions:

TAX DOLLARS: In 2003, the PUC asked ERCOT, our grid operator, to create and implement a nodal wholesale market. The goal for this project is to increase efficiencies in electric generation and transmission, saving consumers money. The cost for the development of the nodal market is $660 million, which is more than twice the original estimate.

* EMINENT DOMAIN: To provide for the transmission of electricity, the PUC has the power to condemn private property and allow electric companies to erect power lines on it. Folks in the Hill Country are currently debating the route of Completive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines.
* UTILITY RATES: The PUC regulates rates charged by investor-owned utilities and is charged with ensuring consumer protection. According to a recent study, states that elect their public utility commissioners have lower rates than those that appoint them.

Since 1991, there have been several legislative efforts to consolidate and streamline these regulatory agencies. With the PUC slated for Sunset review this session and as we face a daunting $18 billion shortfall, now is the optimal time to pursue and achieve this change. If elected, I will pursue legislation to abolish the PUC, grant its duties to the RRC and rename the RRC the Texas Energy Commission. This reorganization will ensure that the commission is more accountable and responsive to Texans, while saving approximately $118 million each year in administrative costs annually.


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top