Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Abbott engages in "pro-taxpayer" publicity stunt (while TxDOT loses ANOTHER $5 Billion)

"A fool’s lips come with strife, and his mouth calleth for stripes."
Proverbs 18:6

Gov. Greg Abbott is demanding that former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold "cover all costs" of the special election to fill his seat using the $84,000 the Corpus Christi Republican used to settle a sexual harassment claim years ago.

Farenthold, who abruptly resigned earlier this month, had promised to pay back the $84,000 — which came out of a taxpayer-funded account — after that settlement was made public last year but hasn't so far.

In a letter to Farenthold on Wednesday, Abbott said the former congressman should return the money to taxpayers by funding the June 30 special election to finish his term.

"While you have publicly offered to reimburse the $84,000 in taxpayer funds you wrongly used to settle a sexual harassment claim, there is no legal recourse requiring you to give that money back to Congress," Abbott wrote. "I am urging you to give those funds back to the counties in your district to cover the costs of the June 30, 2018, special election."
 At first glance, it seems like a decent enough gesture.  Farenthold is certainly a jerk [Note: Though it's probably worth pointing out that, while WE called for Farenthold to go at the time, Abbott never did].  Furthermore, Farenthold is also departing in the most obnoxious way possible.

But come on...$84k?!?

That's not even a rounding error in government; that's not even a fraction of a rounding error.

Meanwhile, you'll never guess what landed in our inbox an hour ago:
Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), Texans for Toll-free Highways PAC, and Grassroots America - We the People PAC contend the much-lamented funding shortfall is largely due to the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) bloat and mismanagement of funds. While metropolitan areas scramble to re-allocate funds to advance projects without tolls, as Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick directed last November, the anti-toll groups argue TxDOT intentionally squandered the nearly $5 billion a year in new funding on low priority projects so they could force toll roads on urban commuters.

The grassroots groups say this is a systemic problem identified in the 2016 Sunset Commission Staff Report which states, “As currently structured, TxDOT’s project development process is not meeting expectations and is not prepared to effectively handle the influx of new transportation funding projected to double over the next decade. TxDOT has not met key on-time or on-budget measures for several years, indicating underlying problems with the department’s management of its project portfolio through complex steps including environmental review, design, and right-of-way acquisition.”


Hall and Fleming point out that the passage of House Bill 20 in 2015 should have addressed TxDOT’s perpetual failure to allocate funding to the state’s 100 Most Congested Roads by forcing the agency to implement project scoring and performance measurements that ensure objective data, not politics, guide the agency’s project selection process.

“The Transportation Commission’s current process for determining how much money to allocate to different statewide transportation goals tends to favor horse trading among various interests more than consideration of performance information…Existing project prioritization process validates status quo instead of advancing projects based on need or impact. TxDOT’s current approach to prioritizing projects does not actually serve as a tool to evaluate which projects are strategically best, but rather works backwards to validate projects that are already in development,” noted the Sunset Staff Report.

[Note: Emphasis in original.]
Bottom Line: Why fix transportation funding (aka. doing the job to which you were actually elected), when you can grandstand over the minuscule cost of a special election?!?

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