Dem officeholders criticized Kasich turnpike proposal

LORDSTOWN — Local Democratic officeholders and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald criticized Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to borrow $1.5 billion, leveraging Ohio Turnpike tolls, for infrastructure improvements.

FitzGerald, a Democrat considering a 2014 run for governor, said today that pressure from elected officials in the northern part of the state, the location of the 241-mile turnpike, played a role in Kasich’s decision to not privatize the highway.

The plan, unveiled last week by Kasich, a Republican, would have about 90 percent of the money raised used for projects on or near the turnpike.

The money collected from the state’s gas tax would go to the southern portion of Ohio. Those in the north would continue to pay gas taxes, but roads and bridges there wouldn’t be funded through that tax.

“The state’s gas tax is now being diverted from the northern part of the state,” FitzGerald said. “It’s an increased tax on northern Ohio. It’s a shell game.”

But Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesman, said, “It’s blind political ambition that’s putting [FitzGerald] in the position to oppose this. He’s doing a disservice to the northern part of the state.”

For the complete story, read Wednesday’s Vindicator and

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