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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Will Rendell and Senate GOP sell out on transportation?

Capitolwire.com reports that Governor Rendell, and possibly Senate Republicans, will go along with House Democrats plan to toll I-80 and raise Turnpike tolls, and have higher local taxes for mass transit:

“In the palace of truth and justice we would lease that baby,” Rendell said of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. “But I’ve pretty much given up on the two fundamental parts of my plan," referring to the turnpike lease and the oil company profits tax.


“We are encouraged that House Democrats, and possibly Governor Rendell, are becoming serious about a taxpayer-friendly solution to transportation funding,” said Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. “With the unconstitutional Oil Company Gross Profits tax and leasing the Turnpike to a private entity receiving no support, we need to direct our attention to proposals that offer the greatest effectiveness at the least cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers."

The Governor's Transportation Funding and Reform Commission recommended "no additional funding" without substantial reform. This proposal offers substantial additional funding with no reform.

The proposals that offer the "greatest effectiveness and least cost" are a competitive bidding process for a lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and competitive contract and higher fares (possibly combined with fare coupons for low-income riders for mass transit).

Expanding the role of the inefficient and patronage-dominated Turnpike Commission while raising tolls is not "taxpayer-friendly." No should mass transit funding be directed at agencies, based on their ability to extract taxpayer money through lobbying government bodies, but by their ability to attract riders with efficient service.

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