This report is based on interviews, not an actual reading of the bill. The bill does two significant things. One is that it substantially reduces the discretionary authority of TxDOT and the Highway Commission to dictate transportation plans to local areas, while expanding the authority of Metropolitan Planning Organizations to determine what is needed for their areas. The state plan, at least for urban Texas, will be, for all practical purposes, the sum of MPO plans. The second thing it does is require the downsizing of TxDOT. At a time when the state is strapped for transportation funding, TxDOT does not need 5,000 or so engineers and support staff. The bill envisions a 50% reduction in the number of positions. No doubt the private sector anticipates that some of the future work of TxDOT will end up with them. TxDOT will be held accountable according to whether the agency executes its transportation plan. There will be a legislative oversight committee, and it will be authorized to contract with a management consultant to look at the functioning of TxDOT. The bill also creates an inspector general for the agency. The commission will continue to be five members. The number of gubernatorial appointments is reduced to three, one of whom must be from a rural area. The lieutenant governor will have an appointment, and so will the speaker, although the selection process is more convoluted in the latter case. The result is less control by the governor. Because this is a Sunset bill, it deals primarily with the structure and management of the agency. It does not deal with the controversial substantive issues of toll roads and comprehensive development agreements. These matters will be dealt with in separate bills.
Politics & Policy