February 19, 2007
I’m writing to you because you’ve recently written to me expressing some interest in issues related to toll roads. I want you to know that I recently filed SB 668, which I call the Tolls Transparency and Accountability Act. My position for some time now has been that the current system of tolls is not as open and accountable as it should be. SB 668 is an effort to cure this. My goal is to ensure that, if tolling is used as a tool for funding roadways, it’s done as openly and accountably as possible.Beginning in at least January 2006, I started looking into the raging so-called “toll debate” that had consumed our region. I became frustrated fast. It was pretty obvious to almost everyone that it was very, very hard to get clear answers to basic questions. All of our region – really, a lot of the state – had become stuck with a “Don’t Ask, Just Tell” toll road policy that lacked the transparency and accountability it needed. Somehow, lots of people were surprised that it was controversial. All of those factors have contributed to a fundamental loss of trust between the people who build our roads and the people who drive on them. As I’ve said repeatedly, we will never have the comprehensive transportation plan that every region in Texas needs and deserves if a handful of folks in Austin keep telling people what to do without asking them what they need or want. I started circulating a set of principles back last summer that set some goals for openness. SB 668 would put those principles into law. Among other things, my bill would:
I’ve been talking about this since well before I was in the Senate, and it’s exciting to file a bill that would put these common-sense guarantees of transparency and accountability into law. As I’ve said in previous speeches and writings, tolling is only a tool that may – or may not – help us develop the comprehensive transportation plan that our region needs. But, if it’s going to be used, it must be used in a way that is open and accountable. This new bill is a big step in the right direction.Feel free to contact my office if I can be of any service to you. Thanks for your interest in these important issues.