Cashing in on Ohio’s turnpike

Cashing in on Ohio’s turnpike

It should come as a surprise to no one that Gov. John Kasich appears to be back on track in his effort to convert the Ohio Turnpike into the administration’s cash cow.

He’s hit some speed bumps along the way — such as when he was challenged for trying to use federal highway money to pay for a feasibility study on leasing the turnpike — but that’s only slowed him down.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that during a visit by Kasich to Cleveland last week, he talked about the options for leveraging the turnpike’s value into a $1 billion slush fund. Clearly the option of allowing the Turnpike Commission to continue operating the 241-mile highway as it has for almost 60 years is not on Kasich’s agenda.

who is paying the piper?

The turnpike was built and maintained by its customers, and that’s the way it should remain. Tolls pay for upkeep and improvements in the road. What Kasich would do is lease the turnpike to a private operator or mortgage the turnpike and use the proceeds — not for the turnpike but for other highway projects.

And somehow this scheme is said to represent a conservative political principle. You can call it redistribution of wealth — from tollpayers to non-tollpayers. Or you can call it robbing Peter to pay Paul. But you can’t call it conservative — at least not honestly.

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