Saturday, September 3, 2016

Republicans should know you can't have it both ways

As traffic and the number of school age children increase cities all over Texas struggle to address the needs of their citizens. Down the road in Cibolo the elected leaders believe that in order for the city to develop in an economically sustainable way it needs extend FM 1103 which currently runs from I-35 to FM 78 so it goes all the way to I-10. In fact this idea has been around since at least 2006 but state funding hasn’t been available and city leaders have been told it will be at least another 20 years if then before money might be available.

Rather than give up and wait a generation or more for the state to find the money Cibolo’s city council decided to investigate the possibility of partnering with a toll road operation to build the extension. Now some members of the community are up in arms over the idea of tolls and spurious claims of using eminent domain to allow an outside company to as they claim “take property a bargain basement prices”.

I was a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission that reviewed the cities options for financing the extension and recommended that working with a toll operator be explored. I was one of the skeptics on the committee and while I’m no fan of toll roads we agreed that there aren’t many options to finance this project. I reluctantly agreed that the city council should explore a toll road so it can be built.

Now here’s what I have trouble making sense out of, many of the folks objecting the loudest to the idea of a toll road are also staunch low tax Republican voters. When you are a low tax state you must also be a low service state in order to balance the budget. In Texas the city can’t even legally raise taxes to the level necessary to pay for the road and still maintain its other responsibilities. Rather than blaming city council members for taking an action they don’t like; these folks ought to be calling our state representative John Kuempel and state senator Donna Campbell to tell them to raise taxes enough to do the job that state governments are supposed to do.

While they’re at it they should also remind our state legislators that funding public education is required by the Texas constitution and they’re doing a pitiful job of that too. The legislature still hasn’t fully restored the funding cuts from they made in 2011 when thousands of Texas teachers were fired and more kids were jammed into each classroom.

Republicans are funny; they don’t want to pay taxes but they expect to get high quality services like good roads and great teachers. Most of us know that you get what you pay for; I just wish Republicans understood that.

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