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Cashing in on Ohio’s turnpike



Published: Sun, October 7, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

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.


Comments

1chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 2 years ago

Did Governor Kasich use the term "slush fund" to describe the effect of leveraging a publically owned asset fo a privately managed use? Said proceeds will be used for education and infrastructure repais across the entire state and not just a portion.

I checked the PD's website and didn't see any quote with such language. Or is this the Vindy editorial board spin?

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2NoBS(1962 comments)posted 2 years ago

Really, chuck? You're arguing over a name? If it walks like a slush fund, quacks like a slush fund, and swims like a slush fund, it's a slush fund. No matter what you want to call it.

And the Vindy is right to question Kasich's continued attempt to liquidate a profitable venture for the state, in favor of his instant gratification scheme, which will cause financial distress for the state once the one-time windfall is blown (and I do mean "blown" !!)

Then let's look at what will happen to the road itself, once it becomes a for-profit operation. Do you think the condition of the road will improve? Will it remain pothole-free, plowed and salted in the winter, and in good repair? You're dreaming if you think so. It hasn't worked anywhere else, and Kasich certainly offers nothing new. He's just another greedy, self-serving politician.

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3redeye1(4564 comments)posted 2 years ago

gdog Get your facts right. The first president to raid SS was LBJ. Reagan had to raise SS in order to keep it secure. Jimmy Carter was the president who made SS taxable. Then Bill Clinton changed how inflation was figured to keep from paying seniors any kind of raise They all belong to the Demoncrats party.All you got to do is check the SS history to find these facts

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4chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 2 years ago

Wan't it Pres. Obama and the now Governor of Mass who said "Words, just words!" One word can color the tone of an article and reveal the writer's true bias.

By the way who raided the Ohio Tobacco Settlement Fund? Oh, that's right, it was ex-Gov Ted Strickland. I believe he was a Democrat. At least the voters had common sense by not keeping him in office.

Thanks for all the BS, NoBS

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5Briscoe(14 comments)posted 2 years ago

Those that oppose leasing the turnpike wrongly assume that such an arrangement will result in these roads not being maintained properly. Such assumption is incorrect - the maintenance can be dictated in the contract and the company that leases it would be monitored to confirm it abides by the maintenance standards. Likewise, toll pricing for the duration of the lease could also be established such as setting tolls to increase no more than the rate of inflation. With that all in place, the private company would pay the state an annual lease fee that would be guaranteed income because the state would no longer have any expenses. Sure, it's likely that overpaid toll workers would be replaced by lesser paid individuals and/or machines. But so would pet projects like the boondoggle multimillion dollar service plaza replacement currently underway on I76 near the PA border that is costing tens of millions on a total rebuild when an upgrade and expansion is all that was required. Don't forget, assessing tolls on the turnpike was never intended to be permanent. In the '90's when the turnpike was finally paid for, the commission voted to extend and increase the tolls - a move that secured their cushy appointments that wield great power and influence.

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6eebee(13 comments)posted 2 years ago

Does Indiana lease its turnpike? The rest stops are filthy, and supposedly maintained by the businesses that house them.

Use Ohio rest stops before you cross the border!

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7NoBS(1962 comments)posted 2 years ago

Strong argument, there, chuck - you bring up dirt on someone else, as if that somehow lessens the dirt Kasich is trying to do. Strickland's antics have nothing whatever to do with the idiotic idea of leasing or selling the Turnpike, other than Strickland knew better than to do it.

In order to keep the condition of the Turnpike as it is presently, PLUS generate a profit for a Kasich Krony who wants to make money off of it, tolls will go up. That means the cost of shipping things by truck will go up. That means the price of things in stores will go up.

Oh, but the new owner can slash the wages and benefits of those horrid public workers, and make even more money!!! And when you hire minimum wage workers, you get minimum wage quality work.

Laying off workers is another favorite of the Kasich Krew - less workers means less work being done. That means the condition of the road surface will deteriorate faster than it's being repaired.

And, Briscoe, even a teabagger knows that when the cost of upgrading a structure exceeds a certain percentage of the cost of a new structure, it's a much better idea to replace, rather than repair, the old structure. You sound like one of those gullible types who value appearance over reality.

You say road maintenance can be mandated in the lease contract. As ol' chuckie above you said, "Words, just words." What's a realistic penalty for not meeting the required conditions? WHO is going to oversee the enforcement of said rules? Kasich has cronies who want to buy/lease the Turnpike. Kasich will be instrumental in any negotiations that are part of that deal. Who's he going to appoint as head overseer - someone with the best interests of the citizens of Ohio, or another crony looking for a sweet, 7-digit income job?

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8redeye1(4564 comments)posted 2 years ago

I don't see Kasick leasing or selling the TP . But i do see him selling bonds thru the TP to fix and start other projects. To me that would be the best way to go , the TP would still be under the commission control. and things would viruality stay the same. If he took out 20 million a year in bonds say for 50 yrs that would help with the costs of the other projects. The TP can afford that

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9DwightK(1266 comments)posted 2 years ago

If it isn't broke, don't fix it. The Ohio pike is one of the best roads you can travel on. Why would anyone mess with that?

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10southsidedave(4784 comments)posted 2 years ago

This road was financed with bond debt that was repaid many years ago and should now be used freely...of course that will never happen.

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11jeepers(127 comments)posted 2 years ago

NO BS-"don't bring up previous admin." OK Do not bitch and moan about Bush anymore. As usual-2 sets of rules for you.

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12JDV(1 comment)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

A couple of readers mentioned that the construction bonds were paid off 20 years ago...true...and the state legislature allowed the OTC to issue new debt to stay in business...true...but how does that leave Kasich's plan as the only alternative. They're both corrupted.

This is the Interstate Highway system we're talking about. Congress should tell Ohio and every other state that tolls the Interstates to get the hell off the roads altogether. They should be maintained like the rest of the system with the federal gas tax as distributed to the respective state DOTs. These roads should be nobody's cash cow...not for Kasich's friends and not for state legislators who want a job waiting at OTC when they eventually lose re-election.

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