WTAM 1100 in Cleveland is reporting that John Kasich said in yesterday’s ODOT press conference that privatizing the Turnpike is on the table:

Privatize the Ohio Turnpike? It’s one of a number of money saving possibilities being looked at by Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich.
Kasich says a major issue right now is the economy. Could Ohio get enough money to make such a move worth it? Kasich also says leasing the Turnpike could also be a possibility.

You can listen to the audio of the Governor-elect here.

Here’s what Kasich said about the Turnpike during the campaign:

Both Strickland and Kasich said they have no plans to follow Daniels’ lead by privatizing the 241-mile Ohio Turnpike. As part of Daniels’ approach to covering shortfalls in Indiana’s transportation budget, the governor cut a deal to lease the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for 75 years to a foreign consortium in exchange for a $3.8 billion lump-sum payment.

Kasich said that privatizing the turnpike "doesn’t make a lot of sense" now because it wouldn’t be fiscally prudent. "The problem right now with considering privatizing the turnpike is you don’t get any money for it," Kasich said. "The capital markets are very terrible."
In the 2006 race for governor, GOP nominee J. Kenneth Blackwell proposed leasing the Ohio Turnpike to a private entity for 99 years, estimating it would raise as much as $6 billion.

(Source: Columbus Dispatch, (Jul. 22, 2010))

Now in the remarks from yesterday, Kasich seems to try to draw a distinction between “privatizing” the Turnpike and “leasing” it.  Perhaps to avoid being accused of flip-flopping given his comments during the campaign.

But that semantics doesn’t work.  Kasich was asked, specifically, in July while touring the State with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) if Kasich would do the same thing as Daniels did in “privatizing” the Turnpike.  However, Daniels’ “privatization” consisted entirely of leasing.  Therefore privatization and leasing in this context is synonymous.  There is no distinction.  Regardless, simply admitting that BOTH are on the table (assuming there’s some distinction we can’t see) is still a reversal of his position during the campaign.

But let’s remember another promise Kasich, at least implicitly, made during the campaign.  He relentlessly attacked Strickland for balancing the budget with “one-time” money.  The way the Indiana and similar “leases” worked is that the lessor pays an upfront lump sum:

As part of Daniels’ approach to covering shortfalls in Indiana’s transportation budget, the governor cut a deal to lease the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for 75 years to a foreign consortium in exchange for a $3.8 billion lump-sum payment.

(Ibid.)

Therefore, it’s pretty clear that Kasich is trying to wiggle away from his prior position and now suggest he’s considering doing something he denied he’d do during the campaign—privatize the Turnpike by leasing it out and potentially on his criticisms about relying on one-time money to balance the budget.

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