Thursday, April 14, 2005

Turner Steers Toll Road Debate

Texas lawmakers love their road projects. This afternoon the House passed Rep. Mike Krusee's (R-Round Rock) somewhat controversial toll road bill, HB 649. The bill removed the toll equity cap (the amount that can be invested in toll roads) of $800 million. That would grant free rein for the Texas Department of Transportation to have unlimited, non- repayable spending on the construction and maintenance of toll roads. Many representatives from rural areas with out toll roads feared this would cut into their transportation funding. But before it left the House, the bill was amended to keep the toll equity cap, but at a higher $1.5 billion.
The amendment, authored by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), had bipartisan co-authorship from several other representatives including Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston). Turner squabbled at length with Krusee during the debate. The Houston Democrat felt the amendment was "a reasonable compromise" by creating a larger cap rather than eliminating all caps on toll road spending by TXDOT.
"The amendment made the bill acceptable to me and most of the other members," said Turner.