Stop Bad Road Privatization

CALLING OUT BAD DEALS—Texas’ roadways should be operated for the long-term public interest. As Texas officials continue pushing risky road privatization deals, TexPIRG is leading the effort to protect the public interest.

Protecting Texans from bad Deals

Texas has been struggling to plug ever-widening holes in the state’s transportation budget while also working to meet growing demand for improved transportation infrastructure and repair. Enter global private infrastructure companies and the investment banks that back them. Touting the benefits of public-private partnerships, these companies seek deals for privatized roads on which they would charge and collect escalating tolls on motorists for decades to come.

Many Texans are skeptical of road privatization and state officials should approach the deals with great caution. While road privatization offers a hard-to-resist “quick fix” for state budget and transportation challenges, the deals are often short-term budget gimmicks that place the public interest in jeopardy.

PUBLIC INTEREST PRINCIPLES

Should Texas move forward with any future road building projects that use private investment, state officials must insist on specific protections for the public to ensure that the needs of people come before any other special interest or investment entity. TexPIRG is pressing public officials to uphold six basic principles to protect the public interest:

  1. Retain public control over transportation planning and management.
  2. Ensure that the public receives fair long-term value for assets. Just because a state or locality faces dire fiscal straits, they shouldn’t sell public assets at a discount.
  3. No deals longer than 30 years should be made because lawmakers cannot reasonably anticipate our transportation needs or assess the value of toll roads beyond a few decades.
  4. Require state-of-the-art safety and maintenance standards that will increase over time.
  5. Complete transparency and accountability must be maintained so that the public knows the complete terms of specific proposed deals — and lawmakers must vote on them.
  6. No budget gimmicks. If governments do sign these deals, the money must be used to address other long-term transportation needs.

TexPIRG will continue to build public opposition, apply public pressure, mobilize coalitions of stakeholders, and educate public officials until Texas’ roadways are safe from bad road privatization deals.

Issue updates

Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Offshore Shell Games

Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

The Unfriendly Skies

It seems as if every consumer has an airline problem story—how they were trapped on the tarmac, tricked by fees, missed their connection, or lost their bag. What many consumers don’t know is that they have a number of new rights as well as a right to complain, both to the airline and to the government. This report tracks five years of consumer complaints and highlights which airlines received the most complaints and what kinds of complaints were most common.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Debt Collectors, Debt Complaints

This is the fifth in a series of reports that review complaints to the CFPB nationally and on a state-by-state level. In this report we explore consumer complaints about debt collection, with the aim of uncovering patterns in the problems consumers are experiencing with debt collectors and documenting the role of the CFPB in helping consumers successfully resolve their complaints.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Course

Universities and colleges across the country are taking steps to encourage their communities, students, faculty and staff to decrease their reliance on personal vehicles. These efforts are working well – saving money for universities, improving the quality of life in college towns, and giving today’s students experience in living life without depending on a personal car.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Budget

New Farm Bill Contains Massive Taxpayer Handouts To Big Ag

TexPIRG urges Congress to vote NO on the Farm Bill. At a time of supposed fiscal caution, this bill would put taxpayers on the hook for another five years of billion-dollar handouts to huge, profitable agribusinesses. Even the most modest reforms to trim subsidies for the largest players were stripped out or watered down at the last second by the chairs of the House and Senate Agricultural Committees.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Toxic or Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to the Texas Public Interest Research Group’s (TexPIRG’s) 26th annual Trouble in Toyland report. The report reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead and phthalates, both of which have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children.  The survey also found toys that pose either choking or noise hazards.

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KVUE: Trouble in Toyland: dangerous, toxic toys found in local stores

Many people are getting ready to go shopping this Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Before you head out, a consumer interest group has a warning about what toys to stay away from.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Transportation

Senate Transportation Bill Misses Opportunity for Historic Change

The Senate bill falls far short of the kind of decisive progress that America’s transportation system needs. America’s beleaguered transportation system is ailing and needs new direction for the 21st century, especially to become less dependent on oil. While this bill has some good provisions, it does not step up to the task. It contains some half measures and a few meaningful fixes, as well as real missteps that we hope will be addressed.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Dallas Observer: Latest Red Light Camera Study Questions the System's Financial and Safety Perks

The report, Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead, examines private companies' agreements with municipalities (about 700 throughout the country) in states that allow automated traffic law enforcement. "Contracts between private camera vendors and cities can include payment incentives that put profit above traffic safety," the report says.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Transportation

Report Examines Whether High-Speed Rail Should Be Public, Private or Both

A first-of-its-kind report released today examines whether high-speed rail should be public, private or both. The research report released by TexPIRG examines the experience with public-private partnerships for high-speed rail in other countries.  In addition to outlining the promises and pitfalls, the report recommends ten principles to protect taxpayers and the public under private financing deals.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Moving Off the Road

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Direction

The time has come for America to hit the “reset” button on transportation policy—replacing the policy infrastructure of the Driving Boom years with a more efficient, flexible and nimble system that is better able to meet the transportation needs of the 21st century.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Transparency In City Spending

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, improves responsiveness, and promotes greater effectiveness and fiscal responsibility.

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Report | TexPIRG | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

What America Could Do with $150 Billion Lost to Offshore Tax Havens

Many corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—to avoid paying $150 billion in U.S. taxes each year. By shielding their income from U.S. taxes, corporations and wealthy individuals shift the tax burden to ordinary Americans, who must pick up the tab in the form of cuts to public services, more debt, or higher taxes. The $150 billion lost annually to offshore tax havens is a lot of money, especially at a time of difficult budget choices. To put this sum in perspective, we present 16 potential ways that income could be used.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2012

The 2012 Trouble in Toyland report is the 27th annual TexPIRG survey of toy safety. In this report, TexPIRG provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

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