11/26/2013Motorist Issues Take Stage In Race For Texas Governor
Republican candidates for Texas governor lay out positions on tolling and red light cameras.
Rick Perry will step down next year after fourteen years as governor of Texas. That leaves potential successors to scramble for to GOP nomination. The Lone Star State is one of the most Republican leaning in the nation -- Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 1.2 million votes last year -- so winning over Republicans is key to taking the governor's mansion. Former state party chairman Tom Pauken is trying to outmaneuver heir apparent Greg Abbott, the attorney general, by highlighting opposition to toll roads and red light cameras.
"I favor a state ban on red light cameras," Pauken wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday. "I will work to get rid of red light cameras in Texas. They are yet another ripoff of the Texas taxpayers. These were put in to find another source of revenue, and I have seen no evidence that these devices have improved safety."
Abbott takes a less forceful stance that would put the issue of ending cameras to the voters.
"The legislature should pass a law amending Chapter 707 of the Transportation Code to include a provision allowing residents of counties and municipalities an option to repeal city government installation and operation of red light cameras," Abbott wrote. "This recommendation would provide all counties and municipalities in Texas a defined path to petition for repeal of red light camera ordinances."
Abbott proposes a referendum be called if ten percent of those who voted in the last election sign a petition. So far, every city in Texas that has had such a vote insisted on taking the cameras down. Votes have been held in Dayton, Houston, League City, Baytown and College Station, each of which voted to take their cameras down by margins as great as 77 percent against. The law would be needed to prevent local jurisdictions from blocking public votes.
"Not every city has been successful in its efforts to remove its red light cameras," Abbott noted. "Earlier in 2013, citizens of Sugar Land gathered more than 3,000 signatures to put the issue on an upcoming ballot. The city council, however, threw out their petition on a technicality."
Pauken further distinguishes his platform by opposing the Texas Department of Transportation plan to toll Interstate 35 while removing tolls from the failed SH-130 toll road.
"If the inference here is that the TxDOT commission would shift the financial burdens for SH-130 to people who commute daily to Austin to pay for the tolling failures of SH-130, this is yet another example of how our state government is using crony capitalism to bail out private enterprises," Pauken said in a statement. "As governor, I would oppose this initiative and all toll-roads that privatize profits and socialize risks onto the backs of Texas taxpayers."