America's Calling: Harry Truman!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
November 14, 2011

When we drive out onto the streets and arterials before we get to the expressways, we long-term and short-term San Antonians see an ever-mounting traffic congestion. Then we get onto the expressway. What used to be more tolerable is becoming or has for some time, become intolerable.

Many years ago the band Chicago sang a song about Harry Truman, longing for the days when he "told it like it was" and said that "The buck stops here." A couple of years ago, Paul Burka, of Texas Monthly fame, wrote on his "Burkablog", the following Truman-like statement, relative to transportation.

"Look, folks. Paul Burka is right on this one. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, I can attest that the only near-term answer to the transportation funding dilemma we are facing is to raise and index the gas tax. Stopping the diversion of gas tax revenues for other legislative purposes, as is long overdue, will not alone solve the problem.

"Calls from naysayers indicating that the tax would have to be raised to $1.50/gal are ill-informed. The Governor’s Business Council, a blue ribbon panel of Perry invitees, told the Legislature over three years ago that the shortage of roadway dollars (estimated then at $60-90 billion dollars, depending upon whomever you believe) could be corrected by a modest (ten cents per gallon) gas tax increase, indexed to annual inflation in highway construction costs, and then bonded against. Those who speak otherwise share misinformation and are sending us into a massive network of privately-operated toll roads which will cost the average driver exponentially more than simply raising the gas tax.

"The motor fuels (gas) tax is a credible source of transportation funding for at least the next 20 years. Based upon careful study, it is by far the most fiscally conservative way to build our Texas roads. The persons who most often criticize it are politicians doing their level best to avoid any sort of “tax increase” on their political record. Where, fellow drivers, is the statesmanship in that?'"

Leadership is not limited to Senator John Carona: “Indexing the Federal gas tax to inflation must be considered. It’s the only major existing user fee not presently indexed.” – Gerry Shaheen, Group President, Caterpillar, Inc., and Chairman of the Board for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at the Commission’s New York field hearing.

Statesmanship and leadership is key along with enlightened citizenry! But one must be prepared to pay the price: brutally honest Senator John Carona is no longer Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee!

Our current Austin leadership appears to prefer to stick its head in the sand on transportation funding, preferring tolling or selling off our public highways, first. Time is not our friend!

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