Geren’s Pet Pig: Trinity River Slush Fund

Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) has extensive experience promoting a wide range of reckless public policies in direct conflict with his party’s platform.

Regarding federal mandates, Geren supported a budget amendment that opened the door for Medicaid expansion, while later opposing an amendment by A-rated Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), which would have required any future expansion mandated by Obamacare, to be approved by our legislature.

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Rep. Geren has extensive experience promoting reckless policies that violate his party’s platform…In 2005, he quietly authorized the TRWD to spend millions on dubious economic development projects, by permanently expanding it's legal authority, using tactics to keep the bill under the radar of most legislators and taxpayers.

On fiscal issues, he voted for a 25% increase in state spending, while opposing a measure that would have diverted funds away from Hollywood film subsidizes and towards the Teacher’s retirement fund, which currently has billions in unfunded liabilities.

Geren sided with moderate Republicans like F-rated Bennett Ratliff (R-Coppell) on a measure that explicitly prohibited the implementation of school choice programs.  Both the party’s platform and 84% of Republican primary voters in 2012 generally support parental choice in education.

He opposed reducing burdensome licensing requirements, supported the expansion of insurance coverage mandates and voted to increase legislator’s pensions.

He sponsored a measure to force private organizations to disclose their supporters, while opposing A-rated Giovanni Capriglione’s (R-Keller) effort to require that legislators disclose their financial conflicts of interests with government contracts.

Geren has proven he’s out of touch with most Texans, including many Democrats and Independents.

The most egregious example of Geren’s disregard for limited government is one that has flown completely under the radar…until now.

In 2005, Geren introduced HB 2639, which vastly expanded the legal authority of the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) to include “environmental restoration, recreation, access to green space, urban revitalization…and economic development”.  The Trinity River Vision (TRV) was the legal entity created to accomplish these dubious goals.

Originally, the TRWD was chartered to produce raw water, and mitigate potential flood damage to property owners.  Today, your next water rate increase or bond issue is likely appropriating money for ‘urban revitalization’.

Since the bill was unanimously voted out of the natural resources committee, it was placed on the local and consent calendar, a mechanism exclusively reserved for non-controversial statues.  As a result, it passed the house with no debate or public scrutiny, nor was there a record vote taken of those in support or opposition.

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Congresswoman Granger secured TRV’s federal pork. The Washington Post ranked her second behind Nancy Pelosi for bringing home the most bacon through earmarked funding for projects, near property she owns.

In fact, most legislators will never know how the measure passed…and, more importantly, neither will taxpayers. 

Congresswoman Kay Granger secured the federal pork, most of which was earmarked in recent debt negotiations with D.C. Democrats.  According to the Washington Post, Granger ranks second behind Nancy Pelosi, for bringing home the most bacon for public projects closest to her own property. On the bright side, at least she’s appointed a trustworthy executive to spend your tax dollars.

Her son, J.D. Granger, is TRV’s head executive collecting a six-figure salary…how convenient?

Most recently, the TRV constructed an ice rink.  We can only speculate as to what other pet projects will follow.  And for those skeptical as to the project’s fiscal significance, the TRV’s 2012 annual budget totaled over $120 million dollars, nearly equal to that of the TRWD itself.  The overall price tag for TRV is projected at $1 billion, half of which is federally subsidized.

In addition to paying for the TRWD’s bloated development budget, residents are facing rising water rates.  Despite successful conservation efforts resulting in lower demand, water rates charged by TRWD to Fort Worth residents will continue to increase, rising fourteen percent in 2014 alone.

Public officials recently pushed for passage of Prop 6, which was based on the concern that the state had insufficient tax revenue available for water infrastructure, meanwhile, moderates like Geren have quietly diverted hundreds of millions of dollars away from projects to produce more water.

As Michael Quinn Sullivan previously covered, many Republican moderates will face primary challengers this election cycle.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, Rep. Charlie Geren is not included in that list.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ross Kecseg leads the Metroplex Bureau for Empower Texans and Texas Scorecard. He is a native North Texan, raised in Denton County. He studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and Constitutional history. Since 2008, Ross has been active in grassroots organizing, political campaigns and as an Irving ISD volunteer. He enjoys speaking to liberty-minded groups regarding the strategic effectiveness of state and local engagement. Ross is an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie.

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