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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Reaction mixed for road leasing

Gov. Rendell has put the idea of leasing the Turnpike back on the table, just in case the proposal from the Turnpike Commission's patrons, lobbyists, and bond attorneys falls through.

The Evening Sun highlights some of the oft-repeated opposition. Unfortunately, most of them reasons are easily refuted. For example, Rep. Ron Miller "fears turnpike tolls would skyrocket under a private operator - higher than the 25 percent increase scheduled for 2009."

Well, the good news is that the state has the power to limit toll increases for the entire life of the contract! Of course, this will determine the amount of up front cash the state will receive from a company. Yes, the company is interested in making money. But so is the Turnpike and everyone else making a living on PENNDOT work across the Commonwealth. The question is, how do we get the best bang for the buck. I'd put my money on the private sector (with the proper incentives in place, of course, through the contract) over the patronage...er, public sector every day of the week.

The even better news is that nearly every fear expressed by lawmakers can be adequately addressed in the contract.

Problem is, too many legislators are opposed to the plan because (a) "It's Rendell's idea", (b) "We don't trust ourselves and/or Rendell to spend the money wisely" or (c) "I got my brother a job at the Turnpike."

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