The Chron comes out in favor of another referendum.
If you look closely at the weekday mix of traffic, you’ll finds lots of 18-wheelers inching along during rush hour. That makes congestion more than an annoyance for individual commuters. Along with the clean air impact it brings, it creates a serious competitiveness issue for this region. Nobody feels it more directly than the folks at the Port of Houston. In the ultra-competitive world of global shipping, cargo containers slowed to a crawl on the backs of 18-wheelers can mean business lost.
So it turns out that Houston is not so cool when it comes to congestion and mobility. It’s not good news, either, that those two items are close to the top of most decision-makers’ lists in judging a city or region’s appeal as a potential location for new businesses.
This is what makes a “For” vote the correct answer on the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s November ballot question.
The ballot question reads: “For or Against: The continued dedication of up to 25 percent of Metro’s sales and use tax revenues for street improvements and related projects for the period October 2014 through December 2025, as authorized by law and with no increase in the current rate of Metro’s sales and use tax.”
The recommendation is practical: It will allow the agency to pay down debt and address issues of decreasing bus ridership.
It is fair: The funding mechanism spreads funding for roads and streets across all areas of the Metro service area.
And it is necessary: It will head off a fight in the Legislature over Metro that would be divisive and economically harmful.
You know where I am on this. I’ll have more on the debate over the merits of the referendum as we go forward, but for now I want to bring up something I haven’t seen discussed before. I’d like to know if there’s any public accounting of how the various entities in Metro spend their GMP funds. We know how the funds are distributed, I’d like to know how they are actually used. Every dime Metro spends is scrutinized. Shouldn’t we have the same amount of information about the money Metro is required to give out? I don’t think that’s asking too much. Anyway, that’s two referenda endorsed by the Chron, one each in the last two weeks. I presume they’ll pick up the pace shortly.