Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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Texas Department of Transportation renewed

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TWC News: Texas Department of Transportation renewed
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After a two-year delay, the Texas Department of Transportation was renewed Friday under a sunset bill, with a few changes.

The state legislature has been working to reform the agency for the past four years, after a billion-dollar accounting error and public outcry over the Trans-Texas Corridor drew scrutiny.

"I'm always looking at what structure got us into the trouble we were in, which was the Trans-Texas Corridor and kind of a real top-down approach rather than a bottom-up approach," Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said.

Nearly 85 amendments were offered up on the bill. Among those accepted was a law that would create stronger rules against the agency attempting to lobby for legislation.

Terri Hall, who has long lobbied against toll roads, said the bill would only support the status quo and allow the agency to continue to draw up debt.

"We are now $31 billion in debt for roads, and then they're going to go sell off our highway infrastructure to all of these foreign companies from the top of the state to the bottom [with] a lot of it backed with public debt as well? So it's public money for private profits. We're looking at unsustainable debt and an unsustainable cost for transportation," she said.

If it passes the Senate, the bill would also allow the agency to appoint an inspector general.

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