Starting tomorrow you’re going to hear a lot more about leasing Ohio’s turnpike. It’s going to be one of in Kasich’s budget proposal tomorrow and it’s going to receive a lot of debate for reasons that will soon become clear.
We’ve been covering similar proposals since 2006 back when Ken Blackwell first proposed it. And as we’ve said many times before: it was a bad idea then and it’s still a bad idea now.
As Modern and OBW both pointed out, it’s probably unconsitutional. It’s also “one time money” – something Kasich promised not to use to balance his budget and something over which Governor Strickland received a great deal of flack during the campaign.
* The highway’s condition will not improve if we lease it – and it may get worse
* There will be no major cost savings to the state by turning the Turnpike over to a private company
* The only way to make the lease profitable for a private company is to greatly increase the tolls
* Increased tolls means drivers – especially commercial truckers – will move to other roads, increasing wear-and-tear on the highways the state still maintains, increasing traffic congestion and increasing the number of accidents that need to be handled by emergency crews
* There is no way we will get anywhere near the $3 billion in one-time-money Kasich is going to claim in his budget proposal
* In order to save money the new owners will fire all of the current turnpike workers and hire back workers at a much lower salary with little or no benefits
* Other long-term lease projects, like the Chicago Skyway, end up being run by a group of foreign investors who are only interested in profits and have no interest in Ohio or its citizens.