Normally, the Texas Department of Transportation is held up as a "how not to" guide for running a state agency. So there was some eye-rubbing this morning when Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, put out a press release saying more state agencies need to act like TxDoT when it comes to their federal stimulus cash.
The road agency had originally planned to make its decisions about how to spend its $1.6 billion during a vote this Thursday: But after an appearance before Dunnam's new House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, they reversed that decision. Dunnam wrote, "The federal economic stimulus provides an historic opportunity for our state [ ] I hope that all agencies will seek input from House members before finalizing decisions where that is possible under Federal deadline."
TxDoT generally has been getting plaudits for being more open this Lege session than before (although, that said, a few commenters have noticed that this is a Sunset Review year for them, so they do have an incentive to play nice).
Full press release after the jump.
Today, the Texas Department of Transportation announced that it would delay plans to commit 1.6 billion dollars in federal funding to pay for transportation projects with little or no public input. TxDoT had indicated it would vote to beginning obligating the funds this Thursday. That vote will be delayed.
"After questions were raised by the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, the Perry administration's decision to delay the Texas Department of Transportation decision-making is a win for accountability and transparency for Texas taxpayers.
"The federal economic stimulus provides an historic opportunity for our state. That is why we must ensure that funds from the stimulus are spent for their intended purpose – to stimulate job growth and improve our economy. Whether it is education spending, transportation programs, or health care, the most important questions we must ask about the stimulus are "will these funds grow our economy?" and "will these investments protect Texas jobs?"
"Texas families deserve to see their tax dollars invested wisely in the future of our state – and not spent in states like New York and California. I hope that all agencies will seek input from House members before finalizing decisions where that is possible under Federal deadline. I am glad that TxDoT is delaying its decision to allow more member input."
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