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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rendell revives turnpike lease plan

Charles Thompson reports that Gov. Rendell is now looking again to the Turnpike Lease, as a "Plan B". This in spite of his news release decrying the US House plan to strip I-80 funding if tolls go up. We think he should scrap Plan A, and continue to push "Plan B."

A Turnpike lease would fetch more money (nearly twice as much, based on the Morgan Stanley estimates) than the Transportation plan passed earlier this month, with lower toll increases, no taxpayer backed debt, and no I-80 tolls.

A few weeks ago Governor Rendell even admitted that "In the palace of truth and justice we would lease that baby" but decided the I-80 tolling plan was more convenient and a quicker way to get money.

Time and again we have been told this plan to toll I-80 won't meet with federal approval - from US DOT officials, from a "clarification" letter stating that the available federal programs were for congestion relief, and now from PA Congressional representatives who oppose the plan. This should be more than enough reason to look at Turnpike lease bids

Governor Rendell should step back and say "Hey, this plan won't work, it doesn't generate enough revenue, it overly burdens PA motorist with high toll increases, it puts us deeper in debt, and it expands a corrupt agency. Only a lease of the Turnpike will work, and if we need, competitive bidding of I-80."

Why doesn't he? He isn't going to profit from the new plan, like Sen. Fumo, and he isn't beholden to Mike Long, like many Senate Republicans. Time to step up and show that he is committed to a Turnpike lease - a good policy and a real reform of government - and that it isn't just a show.

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