MORE CONCRETE: Texas will rob other services to keep the concrete pouring in cities like Austin.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson
isn't the first to come up with a "revenue neutral" highway construction plan. Texas voters just approved one suggested by their own arch-conservative governor.
It's voodoo government: Free highways! Just transfer money from other public purposes for highways. Oh, and for highways only. The ballot initiative in Texas specifically prohibits spending money on bike paths, pedestrian projects or mass transit. Freeways are destiny.
Texans have turned increasingly to toll roads to handle the increase in traffic. But toll roads are unpopular. Voters may not way to pay higher taxes, but they also don't want to have to pay just to drive on their roads (which explains a prohibition on Prop. 7 money going toward toll roads). Last year, the state used its flush rainy day fund to direct up to $1.7 billion more a year toward transportation. But that still fell short of the $5 billion a year that state transportation officials say is needed to maintain current levels of congestion. And the gap grew even bigger after oil prices fell this year, because oil tax revenues fund the rainy day fund.
Get that? "Maintain current levels of congestion."
There are other, better ways of living. It's not just about road building. It's about community and society. Sorely missing in the formula in Little Rock is anything resembling holistic planning.
Oh. Texas will review this idea in 10 years to see if it was brilliant enough to continue.