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Texas DOT Faces Audit Over Toll Roads
Texas speaker and lieutenant governor ask state auditor to begin investigation of Texas Department of Transportation budgetary claims.

Craddick, DewhurstTwo top political leaders on Tuesday asked for an official investigation of the finances of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst (R) and House Speaker Tom Craddick (R) are upset that the agency has claimed to be "out of money" to secure support for a plan to convert existing freeways into toll roads. An intense state Senate hearing last week put a number of the agency's claims under the spotlight.

"It became evident that significant weakness and questionable accounting procedures exist in the financial forecasting and reporting of the agency," the leaders wrote in a letter to State Auditor John Keel. "We are requesting that you initiate a comprehensive financial audit of the Texas Department of Transportation at your earliest convenience."

Dewhurst and Craddick pointed out that TxDOT's forecast of a $3.6 billion shortfall in funding by 2015 left out more than $8 billion in funds available from Proposition 14, mobility fund proceeds and general obligation bonds.

"Forecasts on the revenue side need to be reviewed and either challenged or verified for accuracy," the letter stated.

As allegations have surfaced that the agency has withheld funding from areas that are resistant to tolling, Dewhurst and Craddick demanded clarification of TxDOT's procedures in allocating money to various regions in the state. They also asked for a review of whether highway maintenance costs have really increased 60 percent in the last five years.

"We appreciate your assistance in ensuring that the members of the legislature and the public receive accurate, transparent and understandable information to make the policy decisions for a fiscally sound and effective transportation system for Texas," the leaders wrote.

A full copy of the leaders' letter is available in a 110k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Letter to State Auditor John Keel (Lieutenant governor and speaker of the Texas House, 2/19/2008)

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