NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Sunset Commission staff report begins with a very telling statement. Under issues/recommendations it states, " Until trust in the Texas Department of Transportation is restored, the state cannot move forward to effectively meet its growing transportation needs. Some of that mistrust comes from entities that continue to join the Piney Woods Sub Regional Planning Commission. Number one on its list is to abolish the appointed Transportation Commission and replace it with mostly elected commissioners. Member Merry Anne Bright said, " We feel like that's a political encumbrance when you have an appointed board as opposed to an elected board. "
Second, is the request that all TxDOT ad campaigns receive final approval from the legislature and transportation committees. Accountability is the concern. Bright said, " We would like an investigation into the mismanagement of taxpayer's money. "
The third request is a mandate forcing TxDOT to coordinate with local towns and cities the proposed pathways of their future projects. President of the Piney Woods Sub-Regional Planning Commission, Hank Gilbert of Whitehouse was scheduled to testify in Austin today. Additional Piney Wood members were in Bell County meeting with other sub regional commissions along the I-35 corridor.
Not all East Texans can go to Austin to voice their opinion before the Sunset Commission in person so many of them wrote letters. Their letters can be found on the Sunset Commission web site. www.sunset.state.tx.us/ Some are handwritten by individual property owners. Others represent multiple entities.
Despite the criticisms, most Texans recognize the agency's benefits. Senator Robert Nichols from Jacksonville said, " That agency is wonderful. I strongly support it. What we have a problem with are some of the actions that have occurred. "
The positive aspects are there, but the Sunset Commission is still recommending a four year legislative conservatorship to return control over transportation policy to the legislature.
More Reaction To Today's Sunset Commission Hearing