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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rep. Ken Paxton Responds to Mr. Unloadingzone

About a month ago, I received what I found to be a VERY upsetting email from Representative Ken Paxton concerning the tolling of US Highway 121. I responded to his email and added a few more complaints. I posted all this for you in Rep. Ken Paxton Brags that North Texas Drivers will be Taxed to Death by the NTTA.

Much to my surprise, I received a response from Rep. Paxton on fine linen stationary. Had it been one of those canned "I always enjoy hearing from the voters" letters, I would have tossed it and moved on. But instead, he (or, for the cynical among you, someone on his staff reflecting his views) actually addressed my email on a point-for-point basis.

I found that interesting, and as my blog represents things that are interesting to me, I'm going to share Rep. Paxton's response with you:

Dear Mr. Unloadingzone ,

Thank you for you recent communication regarding toll roads. I, too, have become increasingly concerned and frustrated over the issue of highway funding, particularly with regard to toll roads.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) along with local leaders who serve on the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) made the decision to toll Highway 121 when the Legislature was not in session. Addiionally, TxDOT had plans to move forward with a foreign-owned, private company for this project. Once the Legislature went into session, however, we took steps to prevent the foreign company fom receiving the contract for S.H. 121, thus leading to the decision of granting this tolling project to the North Texas Tollway Authority (please note there are free, continuous frontage roads plannned for the entire length of the S.H. 121 tollway). I wrote about the finalized plans for S.H. 121 because I believe my responsibilities as a representative include keeping the public informed on state projects, particularly ones that affect individuals living in Collin County, and I use my weekly newsletter as a vehicle for doing so.

You are correct that local governments did contribute land and funds to assist with the completion of the project (please see the enclosed information sheet). However, the region will receive $3.3 billion from the concession agreement to construct the project. By state law this money must stay in the region where the toll project is located to construct additional transportation projects. The RTC is handling this selection process now, and several projects in Frisco have been identified for funding using money from this upfront payment. For more information about the next RTC meeting, please visit

Right now Collin County is among the fastest growing counties in the nation. Our need for improved and expanded roads is tremendous. However, I too, am afraid that this need may have been exploited as an opportunity to make money for Austin. Therefore, during the interim, my colleagues and I have stated our commitment to closely scrutinizing our State's funding structure to re-examine how we spend state resources for transportation projects so these issues may be addressed during the legislative session.

I strongly agree with you, too, that the State must reconsider how we spend the money collected from the current gas tax and other transportation related taxes and fees before we rely on tolls or increasing the gas tax. We should also focus on ensuring that these dollars are spent properly and efficiently. Far too much of this money is diverted to programs and funds unrelated to transportation, and I believe we should reallocate this money for use on its intended purpose before considering new opportunities to tax and/or toll Texas drivers.

With regards to your concerns pertaining to public schools, I agree we must focus on spending education money on actually educating students. It is for this reason I supported Governor Perry's decision in 2005 to direct the Texas Education Agency to allocate 65 percent of their revenue to direct classroom instruction. I agree with you also that we spend far too much of our limited state resouces on educating individuals who are in our country illegally. However, in a 1977 case (Plyler vs.Doe), the United States Supreme Court ruled against a Texas law that changed the education code to prohibit the use of state funds to educate illegal immigrants. It is for this reason, we are now required to provide free public eductions to every child in Texas. However, I did introduce legislation this session to repeal a law that grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who graduate from our state's high schools.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate your input and welcome your comments anytime.

Best Regards,

Ken Paxton

I appreciate your response, Mr. Paxton. It answers some questions but opens up a few more. I'll leave the meat of this post to you and respond in another.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He's full of crap just like the rest of them in Austin. It's always somebody elses fault they can't get anything done. He sucks and they all suck. Don't believe anything he tells you.

Mrs. Unloadingzone

Mrs. Unloadingzone
"The Girl of my Dreams"