Many Toll Questions for Harper

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 13, 2004

   In the Sept. 10 issue of the Chronicle [Postmarks], Texas Toll Party representative Jean Harper listed three column inches of questions related to the Austin toll plan. One question, especially, piqued my attention: "Are you aware that the reason for the tolls is that the state doesn’t have money for maintenance, so it’s spending Austin’s allotted money on statewide maintenance?" This question prompts some questions of my own.
   What is your source for this information? Why is the Austin district being so ignominiously singled out? Was the action of diverting Austin’s money approved by the Texas Transportation Commission? Was the transfer approved by the Legislative Budget Board? Did the Texas Legislature approve the transfer of Austin’s highway construction money? Did Gov. Perry approve this transfer of money?
   Why did the state Legislature in the most recent session not approve sufficient funding for needed TxDOT projects? Why didn’t the Legislature not increase the Texas Good Roads tax on gasoline in order to pay for these projects?
   Finally, how would the Texas Toll Party suggest funding Austin’s needed highway construction projects if not with tolls or taxes? It is easy to complain; it is much more difficult to devise an acceptable plan of action.
   Austinites do have inquiring minds, and we want answers.
Bob Farnsworth
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