Kasich has promised his plan for the turnpike won’t involve a lease or turning over the Ohio Turnpike to ODOT. He also promised no turnpike employees would be laid off as part of the plan.
We should all remain skeptical until a final version of the bill to implement these changes is sitting signed on Kasich’s desk. In the mean time, Kasich, with the help of the legislature, could do two things to help quell the fears of Northern Ohioans and the turnpike workers who support the best maintained road in the state.
1. Open up contracts with the Teamsters who work at the turnpike to add a side letter promising no layoffs will occur under any restructuring over the next year. I’m sure the union would be more than happy work with the Governor on this. The letter could simply read something like: “The parties agree no layoffs will be made as part of any restructuring or reorganization of the Ohio Turnpike through the end of this contract.” The current contract expire at the end of 2013.
2. Ask the General Assembly to immediately repeal all language (e.g. ORC 126.602) that allows ODOT and OBM to lease or take over the turnpike. If Kasich is serious about his plan – and if he has the necessary backing of the legislature to implement it – then this should be a pretty easy task. This would serve as a much more honest and permanent indicator of his true intentions than a slick, tax-payer funded website containing focus group-tested talking points.