The Legislature, transportation taxes, and the Trinity toll road

The Legislature saved us from ourselves over the weekend when the state House forced the Senate to remove a provision from the transportation bill that would have allowed us to tax ourselves to pay for area-specific rail and highway projects. And then, today, Mayor Park Cities announced that the Trinity toll road project will be delayed for at least a year and a half for levee safety testing.

A coincidence? Maybe not. More, after the jump:

The House refusal to include the local tax option in the transportation bill mostly has to do with the Legislature’s unique brand of feuding and fussing, as well as the sneaking suspicion by many members that any tax provision would be used to build toll roads, which they dislike even more than I do.

But I can’t help feeling that the Dallas legislative contingent – almost all of whom supported it — saw the tax option as an opportunity to fund the currently non-funded Trinity toll road. That there would have to be a special election for voters to approve the tax would not be seen as an issue by people who have just won two special elections in as many years.

What tipped me off? This odd quote by Leppert, who has never seemed to care one way or the other about DART and mass transit, which he made when it looked like the tax provision was dead: “"It’s important to make the infrastructure investments to make sure we have a strong economy in the future. What could be a bright future is going to turn gloomy.”

Blogger Pete Oppel has insisted, since the February announcement that the levees weren’t safe, that the city would find the money to fix the levees and build the highway. The local option may well have given city leaders a way to do that, depending on how the bill was written and what it would have allowed. Leppert’s announcement today about the delay could be the reaction to what happened in the Legislature. Would the announcement have been made at all if the local option measure had passed?


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