Texas Prop 1 Rail: Tax Increases and Trans Texas Corridor Smoke Screen

From: ThatPRGuy.com
Published: Thu Nov 03 2005

AUSTIN, Tex. – The majority of Texans are opposed to tax increases and the Trans Texas Corridor, and if enough of them learn that Proposition 1 is a smoke screen for a tax increase, they are expected to vote "no" against the proposal.

"I am confident that if Texans knew the financial impact involved, and the unlimited corporate welfare of the rail fund, they would vote against Proposition 1 and defeat it," said Sal Costello, founder of People for Efficient Transportation. "No one wants east coast toll roads here in Texas, or billions in tax increases to pay for the Trans Texas Corridor."

If passed, Proposition 1 will amend the Texas Constitution to authorize the creation of the Texas Rail Fund. Bonds will be sold to fund the improvement and relocation of some privately owned rail facilities into the Trans Texas Corridor Tollway.

If Proposition 1 passes, obligations will be paid for by taxpayers as private rail companies benefit. Private rail corporations, like Union Pacific, have had record breaking profits over the past number of years. Just last month Union Pacific's profits rose by 83 percent.

"Profitable rail corporations should not be subsidized by us taxpayers," said Costello. "And that is what will happen unless we defeat Proposition 1."

People for Efficient Transportation (PET) warns that transporting dangerous chemicals by rail or any other means without strengthening safety regulations across the entire state is as irresponsible as making taxpayers pay billions of dollars of new private sector rail in the Trans Texas Corridor.

The Trans Texas Corridor is 4,000 miles of toll roads and rail that will cris-cross Texas. The proposal is a major concern for Texans. If passed, it means one million acres of Texan's land will be taken through eminent domain and turned over to private corporations to make higher profits.

The Republican Party of Texas platform and more than 30 counties have formally opposed the Trans Texas Corridor over confiscation of private land, state and national sovereignty, and other similar concerns.

Gov. Rick Perry, assuming easy passage of Proposition 1, has already signed agreements with the railroads that specifically exempt companies such as Union Pacific from paying any additional taxes or fees. The wealthy benefactors of railroad companies are big contributors to campaign efforts of politicians, such as Perry.

"Funding for the private sector should be left to the private sector. With the rising cost of gasoline and heating fuel, Texas families simply can't afford to pay billions in corporate welfare for Gov. Perry's railroad fat cat contributors. Texans need to rise up and say ‘no' to the unlimited tax and debt of Proposition 1 rail fund." said Costello.

Borrowing money from a newly created, unstable bond funds does not magically print new dollars for the Trans Texas Corridor, it only delays the time when payment is due.

"Prop 1 unlimited taxpayer debt is no different than using a credit card when you know you have no funds to pay the bill when it arrives," said Costello.

Even the supporters of Proposition 1 agree that the debt service alone on the bonds issued could cost taxpayers at least $87.5 million per year beginning in fiscal year 2007.

David Van Os, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, said the rail measure is "on the ballot to speed up the Perry government's rush to put higher profits into the bank accounts of private developers at the taxpayers' expense."

Members of the Young Conservatives of Texas say Proposition 1 means higher taxes because there is no room left in the state budget to pay for rail relocations.

Kathy Walt, Perry's spokeswoman, said the proposition to cost billions wouldn't require a tax increase.

"The Governor's failure to fix education, after back to back sessions, proved that he doesn't have a magical money producing tree," said Costello.

Sal Costello

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