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Endorsement watch: Prop 1

Skipping over two more contested City Council races (in Districts H and I), the Chron jumps into the statewide ballot propositions with a call in favor of Prop 1.

Proposition 1 seeks to amend the Constitution to authorize a Texas rail relocation and improvement fund to be administered by the Texas Transportation Commission.

The TTC could issue bonds backed by monies in the fund, and the bonds would be repaid from fund balances. Bond revenues could be applied to construction projects that would move traffic around passenger and freight rail lines. The goals would be to advance public safety, improve air quality and spur economic development.

A constitutional amendment is required for these purposes because the state is constitutionally prohibited from taking on bonded indebtedness without voter approval beyond an amount requiring a specified level of debt repayment out of general revenue. The amendment, if approved, creates an exception to that prohibition.

Normally, a strong argument could be made that taxpayers should not spend money to reroute rail infrastructure belonging to private rail companies. But the need for public attention to the problem of trains blocking major thoroughfares has become increasingly clear as Texas cities grow.

They cite safety concerns, a theme echoed in this Express News endorsement (via Latinos for Texas) of Prop 1. What is hanging me up, however, is this:

If voters approve the amendment, lawmakers plan to find revenue for the fund in the next legislative session.

“We’ll get input from the public and then figure out a way to pay for it,” said Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, who sponsored a resolution to put the amendment on the ballot.

The fund would be used in a public/private effort to move freight rail traffic out of densely populated areas.

To put it bluntly, I don’t have a lot of faith right now in the Lege’s ability to “figure out a way to pay for it”. The current leadership is not interested in honest accounting, as any even casual observation of the school finance shenanigans should make clear. And the thought of opening a public-money spigot to an industry that donates heavily to Rick Perry is not a comforting one. I appreciate the need to do this, but there’s way too much leeway here for unintended consequences. Like Greg, I will be voting No on Prop 1.

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  1. Trafficnerd says:

    Not to mention, a few years back the voters approved the constitutional amendment granting the state dot the ability to sell bonds for the mobility fund and transportation improvements, and that fund was subsequently raided in the last session in which the Lege took money from the mobility fund and put it into the general fund…

  2. Sal Costello says:


    Proposition 1 is an open-ended corporate subsidy scheme — with blank checks. Taxpayers will pay of unlimited tax dollars to move private corporations rail lines, like the very profitable Union Pacific — into Gov. Rick Perry’s unpopular $200 Billion Trans Texas Corridor. Perry promised that no public funds would be used for the Corridor. Did he keep his promise? No. The Texas’ Republican Party platform and over 30 counties have formally opposed the Corridor.

    Our state debt commitment also will be open-ended for the Proposition 1 rail fund, like a credit card with no ceiling. The state is committing taxpayers to massive debt of Billions of dollars for generations, while private special-interest corporations like Union Pacific profit.

    Many agree that private rail should be relocated, but not without a price tag or terms or limits, and not for a poor concept such as the Trans Texas Corridor.

    In 2001, 67% of Texans said yes to Proposition 15, not realizing it opened the door for a special interests boondoggle to privatize and toll public highways we’ve already paid for and the push the Trans Texas Corridor. 2005’s Prop 1 is the same ploy as in 2001, and it’s also fiscally irresponsible. Vote YES for accountability and NO to special interests’ Prop 1 and the crafty politicians who continue to ask taxpayers for more and more of our tax dollars as corporate welfare.

    Sal Costello
    Founder of People for Efficient Transportation (More than 40,000 Texans strong)
    [email protected]