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Kasich’s turnpike plan merits bipartisan consideration



Published: Sun, December 16, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

We were, frankly, surprised by the scope of Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to use the Ohio Turnpike as collateral for raising more than $1 billion for highway construction projects, most of which would finance projects in Ohio’s northern tier.

Our fear had been that Kasich would pursue a long-term lease of the turnpike to private investors. That plan could have provided the state with a larger pool of cash, but at too high a cost. In the six years since Indiana leased its turnpike to a consortium of foreign investors, tolls for automobiles have doubled and tolls for trucks have more than doubled.

Kasich’s plan is not a lease, it is a mortgage. More importantly, it preserves the Turnpike Commission as an independent entity that will retain responsibility for oversight of operations.

Kasich’s plan is not perfect. At its heart, it is still a scheme that diverts some of the receipts from the toll road to unrelated uses. Specifically, a portion of the tolls will be used to retire a debt of about $1.5 billion that will be spent on road projects not directly tied to the turnpike.

The hidden tax

The state will be taxing people who use the turnpike — some of them Ohioans, many of them not — to pay for Ohio’s roads and bridges. The best that can be said for that is that governments do it all the time. “Sin taxes” take money from smokers and drinkers to pay for athletic facilities that the majority of those smokers and drinkers will never use, for instance. Turnpike customers will now be among those paying penance even though traveling on the turnpike violates no commandments that we know of.

Nonetheless, the governor’s proposal deserves serious consideration on both sides of the aisle. Its attributes may outweigh its faults.

It caps toll increases at the inflation rate, meaning that motorists will not see any Indiana-like explosion in costs. And pouring at least $1 billion into short-term road construction will provide a quick boost for the economy. Other projects over the years will contribute to long-term economic development.

However, in this day, local governments are going to be hard-pressed to come up with a local match for state and federal highway dollars.

And there is a potential for shifting money that the northern tier is entitled to from the state’s gasoline tax to southern counties on the grounds that the north is enjoying a windfall from the turnpike fund. It will be up to local senators and representatives to be vigilant.


Comments

1NoBS(1987 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

"They do it all the time"?!?! THAT's the best reason you can come up with for letting Kasich go ahead with his scheme to redistribute Ohio's money to where he sees fit (himself and his cronies)? We're ALREADY being taxed for using the Turnpike - we pay tolls every time we use it. Kasich wants more money from the more "D-oriented" north half of the state, so he can spread it among "R-oriented" southern half - Columbus and Cincinnati, mainly.

The entire state is entitled to the gasoline tax every one of us pays. And the Turnpike monies should be spent near the Turnpike - that's where they come from, and those are the people who use it. We'd be paying more and getting less, while Kasich's cronies make out like bandits.

"It will be up to local senators and representatives to be vigilant." - yeah, we've seen how well that works. I think this editorial "damns Kasich's scheme with faint praise." And I don't think Kasich deserves even that - he doesn't deserve anything more than an emphatic HECK NO!!

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2ulistenup(95 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

NoBS,

Why such a parochial view of revenue from "our turnpike."

The turnpike is a state asset that exists for the benefit of all Ohioans, not just those in the north.

Kasich's plan is a very reasonable one for the future "leveraged" use of the turnpike.

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3NoBS(1987 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

listen, who uses the Turnpike more - people from Cincinnati, or people from Cleveland? And the way the law now reads, monies from the Turnpike MUST be spent within one mile of the Turnpike. Why did they create that law? Perhaps the additional traffic the Turnpike creates in the vicinity of its off-ramps requires more maintenance than would otherwise be needed? The Turnpike is functioning just fine as is. Siphoning off money will result in the lack of routine maintenance - never mind improvements. Tolls will go up, and services will go down. Kasich claims tolls will not rise "as high" under his new plan - but who says tolls are going to rise AT ALL if he leaves things alone?

Kasich's plan is more Lehman Brothers type scheming, and will have the same end result. But by the time the bottom falls out, Kasich will have moved on to help sink another ship somewhere.

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4chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Bravo to the Editorial Board for keeping an open mind as to Kasich's plan. Even in light of the abhorence that Gerberry, Hagan, timmie ryan, Strickland et al possess to any Kasich proposal.

Even Interesting that the Dem Mayor Jackson of Cleveland is backing the proposed turnpike plan

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5redeye1(4635 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

NoBS would you please change your posting name to ALLBS! Thank you

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6NoBS(1987 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

toys, that's where the law says the Turnpike funds must be used. DUH!! Do we in the north not pay gasoline taxes?? Are we not therefore entitled to having our tax money spent on us? You can't refute one thing I said, so you attack me - even though you don't know me at all, and that's obvious from what you say about me. I've driven my own car in NYC as well as other parts of NY. I was in Chicago a couple years ago. I've been all over this country, on two wheels as well as four, and I've been in lots of other countries as well. And I was a Republican until Kasich became governor - if he's what the Republican party wants, then I'm out. I have as little use for him as I have for Betras, Hagan, and Gerberry. Now go back to my reply to ulistenup and try again.

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7redeye1(4635 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

NoBS Back in the late eighty's the Turnpike gave the state 50 million dollars to do a study on making a new I- 75 from Toledo to Columbus a toll road. They spent the money and nothing came of it The state took the money without changing any laws

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8ytownredux(117 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Toycannon, I am trying to be more sympathetic to yours and others views lately, but most of what NoBS says is true. I have mentioned this on another thread about this as well. While I am not entirely opposed to Kasich's plan, the fact is that current law states that all monies generated must be used within 1 mile of the turnpike. That is a good law and one that needs to be put into Kasich's plan. I wouldn't mind some redistribution, say 20% for outside road/bridge projects and 80% within 1 mile of turnpike.

This is a good job creating solution, and can work, but there has to be strict guidelines in place to ensure that it does not bankrupt the system, nor can more than a large percentage of funds be used more than the 1 mile mark from the Turnpike.

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9AnotherAverageCitizen(1175 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

If a Dem is in office and comes up with a plan basically to borrow money, that we and our kids will be paying for it in future years, the repubs would never go for it. However, this time the narrow sighted repubs follow kasich and his bad idea.
The Fed Govt spent Billions in shovel ready projects and most Repubs all cry it didn't help. It was a bandaid on the Bleeding economy. So now kasich is spending money he does not have, and you folks defend him.

kasich wants to change rules already set in place to use money for outside 1 mile of the turnpike. All while making another rulle saying future toll increases won't be like Indiana's. Who's to say that rule would stay in place.

Again kasich claims to balance the budget and spend money he doesn't have. The next Gov will have to fund his current projects. When the next Dem Gov is in office, the Repubs will say the Union is destroying the Turnpike budget. All while we know it is kasich's fault.

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10NoBS(1987 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

And if a Republican wants to "redistribute the wealth" that's just peachy with all the right-wingers, but if a Democrat wants to do it, why, it's Socialism, Communism, and the End Of The World!!!

How many of you people who agree with Kasich's scheme for the Turnpike have, at some point, disparaged Obama and his followers for supporting the Welfare leeches, adding to the entitlement mentality, and all that? Those are just other terms for redistribution of wealth. Are you so dense as to not see that?

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