Houston Mayor Annise Parker recently told the Examiner newspapers that “the idea that rejecting the referendum and returning the quarter-cent to Metro would speed up rail is a ‘flat out lie.’”
Additionally, she said “This vote has nothing to do with rail. It doesn’t help rail, it doesn’t hurt rail.”
Whoops. As it happens, both of her statements are false. The accusation that I and others who oppose this referendum are lying when we say that it would be devastating to Houston’s rail prospects is simply untrue.
County Commissioner Steve Radack, anybody who works for Metro, and at least one of the board members will admit that Metro cannot build any rail in addition to the lines that are currently under construction if it doesn’t get more money. That’s a fact.
Specifically, the University line is dead if Metro doesn’t get more money. That’s a fact.
The only way it can get more money is to hold on to the tax money it is currently diverting to the City of Houston, unincorporated Harris County, and the 14 multicities that have become dependent on it. That’s a fact.
If the quarter cent is returned to Metro because people vote against the referendum, that will add $2.5 billion to Metro’s revenues over the next decade. That’s enough to build a lot of rail and bus service. That’s a fact.
The Mayor and others who support the referendum say that it will return about $400 million to Metro between now and 2025. What they don’t say is the additional money cannot be used for rail. That’s a fact and it’s plainly stated in Metro’s referendum brochure.
So this vote has everything to do with rail. If the referendum wins, then there simply is no way to begin more rail construction for many years. And that is the intent of the suburban developers who are seeking to control Metro and the Mayor on this vote.
So don’t be confused: if you want more rail and much more bus service, vote against this terrible referendum.
- David Crossley
Houston Tomorrow/Houston Transit Coalition