The Trailblazers blog on the Dallas Morning News has a blog series called "Heat Index" which takes statements from the candidates and dissects them and truth checks them...
THE CLAIM: U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison attacked Gov. Rick Perry this week for being eager to raise gasoline taxes on Texas drivers. "Unlike the current governor, whose first order of business would be to increase motor fuels taxes, Kay Bailey Hutchison believes that taxpayers should not be asked to shoulder increased tax burdens while [the Texas Department of Transportation] leadership is mismanaging the money they have," Hutchison's campaign said in a news release.
THE FACTS: Perry has been governor for 10 years and has made transportation one of his priorities. But never has he called directly for an increase in the gasoline tax, which has remained at 20 cents per gallon since 1991.
For years, transportation officials appointed by Perry have argued that Texas needs to spend more money on its roads and bridges. Visiting Dallas in November, he agreed the system was underfunded, telling reporters that Texas needs to "raise some dollars" for transportation. But he expressed no preference for raising the gasoline tax rate.
Perry has sought to use tolls -- which Hutchison also supports -- not taxes to provide those billions. He has said that he would allow a tax increase to become law, if the Legislature approved it and voters endorsed it in a referendum, though he said he did not believe that would happen.
Hutchison's campaign has also zeroed in on some of Perry's other comments, including when he said in November: "We're going to need the ability to access every pot of money that's available. You're going to have to have all of those sources of dollars that are out there, whether it's the gasoline tax, whether it's tolls."
BOTTOM LINE: Saying a gas-tax increase would be Perry's "first order of business" is simply untrue. If it were true, Perry would have tried for one in his decade as governor. Beyond that, none of the statements provided by the Hutchison campaign as support for its claim includes a clear call to raise gasoline taxes. "Accessing every pot of money that is available" doesn't mean Perry prefers gasoline taxes over tolls or other revenue, as Hutchison suggests.
Why would Hutchison make such statements, which are so easily demonstrated to be false, as a centerpiece of her campaign on transportation issues?
Could it be that Kay Bailey Hutchison is simply not as sharp and competent as some claim?
I admire Lindenberger's restraint in saying KBH's statements are "simply untrue."
This also matters because her failure to address the funding shortfall for transportation invites huge skepticism over exactly what she stands for. Some anti-tollers apparently believe that being open to PPPs means being open to reviving the TTC. I doubt Hutchison saw this coming. Maybe she should have. It's hard for a well-connected, lifelong Republican to make the case to populists that she stands with them against major corporations that want to invest in toll projects.
Perhaps the best-known Texas anti-toller, Terri Hall of San Antonio, has been saying that a higher gas tax is the fairest way to go to plug the funding hole for roads.
KBH will never go there, but she'll pay a price for indecision.