CorridorWatch.org just sent me an email update containing the entire speech Rick Perry made to TxDOT's Transportation Forum yesterday. I went to Corridor Watch's website, and they haven't yet posted the remarks there, but I'm sure they will soon, so keep checking.
Here's a couple of snippets I'd like to comment on:
If anything, those challenges have grown larger, and this moment in time finds us at a crossroads. Our population continues to grow by roughly 1,500 people per day. For you Aggies in the audience, that means we could fill Kyle Field up with newcomers every 55 days, or fill it up 66 times in the next ten years.
That's a whole lot of people with a whole lot of needs, but that's not the only factor in play. We're also dealing with a funding crisis brought on by a less-than-reliable federal gas tax system. inflation at the national level for everything from materials to labor, and the fact that the bonds passed in 2003 have been spent. As of right now, TxDOT construction lettings are projected to be half of what they were in 2005.
That is not what I call progress. It's what I call a problem.
Ladies and gentlemen, as I travel around Texas and the country, one of the things I enjoy the most is bragging about the Texas economy. Texas is leading the nation in job growth and has been voted the top state in the nation to do business. Just yesterday, I read where we are now the leading state in the nation for corporate headquarters, recently surpassing New York.
Companies are moving to Texas in droves, creating thousands of new jobs for our people and investing billions in our economy. If we can't find a way to move their goods, services and workers around this state, they will leave just as fast.
The simple truth is: When it comes to roads, we need more of them.
Because I'm sure as heck not going to stop inviting companies to relocate their operations to our state. Those jobs mean income for Texas families, tax revenues for local communities, and a continually rising economic tide. And good roads mean a better quality of life for our citizens.
Unfortunately, folks on the various sides of this issue have lost sight of these simple facts. Too often, we have seen the issue of road construction driven by emotion, rather than reason. When this happens, honest debate is stifled, and solutions are sacrificed at the altar of politics.
Those "challenges" our illustrious governor speaks of are the challenges of ramrodding through a plan that the people of Texas overwhelmingly do not want. And yes, he seems committed to overcoming them.
He doesn't even pay lip service to the possibility that, with such a robust and growing economy, the increases in tax revenues alone should be more than adequate to keep our roads Texan-owned and Texan-operated. Sure, there's emotion involved. Texans care deeply about autonomy. We care deeply about our land and our rights. And most importantly of all, we care deeply that we should be able to rely on our elected officials to represent Texas, and not the interests of corporations and profits.
What he says he wants is:
...we need to innovate. We need to thoughtfully debate. And we need to bring all ideas to the table to tackle the overwhelming need our state faces. And we already have some pretty innovative ideas on the table.
I'm sorry, Mr. Governor, but your actions on this matter so far (and those of your appointees) have shown that you do not care about "thoughtful debate." You don't care about bringing "all ideas to the table." Because you've got your "innovative ideas," and you've shown so far your absolute disregard for not only the voices of the regular citizens of this great State, but also the voices of those folks in Austin elected to represent us. You've disregarded our voices solely so that you can force this corporate boondoggle, this monumental land-grab down our throats, and we're not going to be silent just because you're not listening.
A good portion of our legislators are listening, Mr. Governor. And it is my sincere hope that they keep their ears open. That they hear the concerns of ranchers who will have their lands split by a quarter-mile-wide monstrosity with no access points. That they hear the concerns of small communities that will be swallowed up and turned into ghost towns. That they hear the concerns of Texans who have paid for our highways all these years and don't want to turn them over to a corporation.
In closing, Mr. Governor, I'll leave you with the words of a song I learned as a small child. I think they're particularly appropriate: