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Action needed Now on Robin Hood Toll Taxes in Perpetuity!!

This Bill Alert provided by: TURF

HB 1112 & SB 19

Robin Hood Toll Taxes in Perpetuity!

Call your State Representative at 512-463-4630 & tell them to vote NO on HB 1112 & SB 19 that would grant permission for toll agencies to toll our citizens in perpetuity and make tolls no longer a user fee, but a perpetual, hidden tax. A vote for HB 1112 & SB 19 is a vote for PERPETUAL taxation!

For calls on Saturday, use 512-463-0845 (& they’ll get you to your House Rep).

BILL STATUS: HB 1112 is in conference and may come up for a vote ANYTIME in either chamber. SB 19 is on the General State Calendar in the House for Sat., May 21. 
HB 1112 (Phillips) to allow toll entities, in effect, to toll in perpetuity and use borrowed money to secure more borrowed money, the same schemes that caused the subprime mortgage crisis!  Like building roads with credit cards. HB 1112 is a vote for Robin Hood toll schemes (called ‘system financing’) stealing toll taxes from one corridor and pledging it to another corridor (that those same users may not use) as well as to increase the toll on one segment to gain ‘surplus revenue’ to pledge to another project and so on, making it impossible to take tolls off the original road. In the Senate Transportation Committee March 9 it was acknowledged that “system financing” effectively means tolls in perpetuity (see testimony from Sen. Steve Ogden below). The Texas Constitution prohibits perpetuities in Art I, Sec. 26.
Sen. Steve Ogden said in testimony March 9 while laying out his bill SB 363 that would make tolls cease when a road is paid for: “I’m here to atone for my sins, and to make sure the innocent don’t pay for the guilty and to make sure we have truth in taxation. SB 363 addresses an issue in current law where the length of time a tolling entity is authorized to collect tolls on a project is not specified. SB 363 removes the authorization of all tolling entities from using surplus toll revenue to fund other toll projects. SB 363 also adds that once acquisition and construction costs for a toll road have been paid for then the collection of a toll ceases and the road becomes part of the state highway system which TxDOT maintains…
But what we have in this state right now is perpetual tolling. And I don’t think it is truth in taxation…What I’m trying to do is to make tolls truly a fee for use rather than a general tax that gets spent by entities that really voters have not voted for or approved. I’m trying to make tolls a fee and not a tax…I’m positive if you ask the public do you think tolls should go away if the road is paid for it’d be an overwhelming yes.”
So HB 1112 would grant permission (the law is currently unclear, this would make it explicit) for RMAs to toll our citizens in perpetuity and make tolls no longer a user fee, but a perpetual, hidden tax. A vote for HB 1112 is a vote for PERPETUAL taxation!
SB 19 (Nichols) This is the “primacy” bill giving toll entities the right of first refusal on all toll projects in its jurisdiction. However, when toll entities exercise a right of first refusal they also get development rights for ALL future contemplated segments that touch that project. The bill also grants toll entities ownership in perpetuity. This virtually guarantees tolls will be charged in perpetuity and that these projects will be never become non-toll roads. This bill gives far too much power to these UN-elected toll entities.
Under Subchapter B that gives local toll entities control over not just one phase of a toll project, but makes the exercise of ‘primacy’ equivalent to “an exercise of primacy over the entire project, with additional phases to be developed as the entity determines the phases financially feasible.” This means that local toll entities virtually control all the road projects that touch what a toll entity considers a future toll project it wants to develop.
So if a toll entity slaps managed toll lanes on one segment of I-35, that means future expansion of I-35 will be under the control of the toll entity, so the likelihood of those projects ever being non-tolled is slim to nil. Plus, the managed lanes would be owned by the toll entity in perpetuity, therefore, an exercise of primacy guarantees those lanes will NEVER become free lanes as part of the regular state highway system.
Our STATE highway system is being fractured with turf battles over who gets the pot of money at the end of the toll rainbow, creating a disjointed system of local city-states versus a unified state highway system. Then, MPOs have been forced, due to persistent funding shortfalls, to designate most every road project as tolled in order to keep projects in the plan and moving forward. So we’re told tolling is a placeholder, but due to primacy, and the language in SB 19, a toll entity can exercise primacy over the project at any time once an MPO adopts ANY toll project into its plan, when locals may wish to revert that project back to a non-tolled project at a later date. This does not give them the flexibility to do so. The initiation process and re-initiation process coupled with the flawed MPO financially constrained mandates all but guarantee 99% of urban projects will be tolled FOREVER. A project could be jockeyed back and forth over whether to toll or not and who will do it, indefinitely. There is no end to this process clearly spelled out in the bill.
The bill also allows toll entities to conduct its own environmental studies. Under no circumstances should a toll entity be able to conduct its own environmental studies — this practice makes it certain that a tolled outcome will always be churned out as the “preferred alternative” under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which violates the requirement of an unbiased review of all reasonable alternatives, including non-toll options.
This bill would also allow “system financing” or Robin Hood wealth redistribution schemes that raid from one and give to another. So this is really about taxation not user fees to pay for a given road segment, and it’s taxation in the hands of UN-elected bureaucrats.
So HB 1112 & SB 19 would grant permission (the law is currently unclear, this would make it explicit) for toll entities to toll our citizens in perpetuity and make tolls no longer a user fee, but a perpetual, hidden tax. A vote for HB 1112 & SB 19 is a vote for PERPETUAL taxation!
This Bill Alert provided by:

Terri Hall, Founder, Texas TURF, (210) 275-0640, WEB: http://www.texasturf.org, EMAIL: terri@texasturf.org

Texas TURF is a non-partisan, grassroots, all-volunteer group defending Texans’ concerns with toll road policy, Trans Texas Corridor-style projects like public private partnerships, and eminent domain abuses. TURF promotes non-toll transportation solutions.
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