April 27, 2019 - TRA Opinion -

TRA unites a broad coalition concerned about potential abuse of power


As the Texas Legislature enters the crucial conclusion of the 2019 legislative session, Texas Rail Advocates is calling on supporters of smart infrastructure funding and campaigners for government accountability to stand in opposition to underhanded efforts aimed at denying popular transportation policies. Unsurprisingly, those that seek to maintain the status quo (in which 99% of transportation funds go to highways) are doing their best to skirt public debate by relying on secretive backroom deals.


Chief among the opponents of sensible transportation policy is Texas Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury). While Birdwell claims to be an opponent of big government and job-killing regulations, he in fact filed a rider to the Senate budget bill that introduced unnecessary government regulations designed to make high-speed rail travel untenable in Texas. Birdwell knows all too well the power that unwieldy government has to short-circuit innovation and he aims to harness regulation to further his anti-train agenda.


Birdwell’s Budget Rider 44 perfectly exemplifies Austin’s unique brand of dysfunction that so many have come to resent. Not only does the Rider stack the deck against private enterprise to protect the status quo, it does so by attaching itself to the must-pass state budget. Birdwell and his allies know that their attempt to halt progress is so unpopular that they seek to dodge all public debate on the subject. Fortunately, Budget conferees in the House and Senate will have an opportunity to remove this nod to special interests, and TRA is calling on responsible elected officials to do just that.


Now is the time for Texans that value a forward-thinking transportation infrastructure to stand up and make their voice heard in opposition to Budget Rider 44.


Texas Rail Advocates aims to preserve the Texan values of freedom and entrepreneurship against bureaucrats that wield state power for their own ends. This desire to protect Texans from government overreach has attracted allies, including individuals and organizations that are not involved in the everyday fight for reliable transportation in Texas.


“If everyone in the Texas Legislature honored their campaign promise to govern transparently, efficiently and effectively, there would be no need for us to sound the alarm,” said Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody. “Unfortunately, some of the elected officials that are most adamant about their commitment to small government principles are also the most eager to harness government to serve their own interests. We will stand up for the principles that have made Texas great and help ensure that no businesses are shown preferential treatment by Austin bigwigs.”


As this legislative session draws to a close, Texas Rail advocates remains committed to serving as a voice for all Texans demanding sensible transportation solutions.