I have written often in this column concerning the hypocrisy of various politicians. My definition of hypocrisy is the act of saying one thing and doing another. For example, a religious hypocrite is one who professes to be adherent to godly principles in public, and yet ignores those principles in private.
Another fine example of political hypocrisy has emerged. Governor Perry appoints the Texas Commission on Transportation which recently has been fairly open about the fact that revenue dedicated to Texas’ highways is insufficient to sustain an aggressive program of good roads throughout the state. In fact, the Commission has made it known that the current revenue stemming from the motor fuel tax is wholly inadequate to even maintain all of our roads and bridges at the current level of quality.
Senator Eltife from Tyler, a Republican, has even proposed the motor fuel tax in Texas be raised and indexed to the cost of living so that it would increase as does inflation. Senator Eltife, as well as Senator Carona from Dallas, and others have pointed out the fact that Texas has more and more maintenance requirements of our highway system while the motor fuel tax has not been increased in years to keep pace with the need. Even worse, federal law and improved technology in automobiles have seriously reduced the amount of motor fuel being required of Texas drivers. Consumers using fewer gallons of fuel decreases the amount of revenue raised because the motor fuel tax is based on a per-gallon charge.
Governor Perry has steadfastly refused to even consider any increase in any revenue matter which could remotely be called a tax at the state level. Furthermore, he has indicated to members of the Legislature that should they pass such an increase in tax, it would be vetoed.
The Perry boast, joined in by a chorus of Republican politicians is that they have managed to run state government in Texas with no increase in taxes. This is the part that is grossly hypocritical.
Reductions in the appropriations for public school has caused large increases in the burden of local homeowner and business taxes. A recent strategy currently being employed as to highways in Texas is a blatant effort to increase taxes at the local level, shifting the burden from the state to counties and cities. Texas Department of Transportation has proposed that Port Arthur assume responsibility for maintenance of 30 miles of highways and roads which lie within the city limits. The Department has made a similar proposal to the City of Beaumont which includes in excess of 30 miles of state highways. These include Highway 105, Highway 90, and several others.
Should the Texas Department of Transportation be allowed to pawn off the responsibility for these miles of state highways, it would include maintenance, repair, signage and anything else related to these miles of road. All of this would almost assuredly result in a local tax increase to the people of Port Arthur and Beaumont. Fortunately, officials of cities and counties throughout the state were alerted by their lobby organizations and managed to mount an effective protest of this grand scheme. At least for the time being, the Department of Transportation has backed off of this ill-intentioned plot.
In the Navy we had a saying about naval officers. The saying went that there are two kinds of officers: Do as I do officers, and do as I say officers. There obviously are two kinds of politicians which fit in the same adage. For me, I would prefer “do as I do” politicians, provided they would do the right thing the majority of the time.