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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rendell revives idea of leasing turnpike

The Patriot-News reports that "Rendell has said that if the process promised annual returns approaching $1.5 billion or more, he likely would ask the General Assembly to reconsider the current transportation spending plan."

Here are just four reasons why it probably won't happen.

First, Rendell is obviously not committed to the idea. He was more than willing to accept the Act 44 boondoggle despite its clear failure to adequately meet our transportation infrastructure needs. He wanted cash now, that's all. He did nothing to advocate for it. Indeed, he did far more to work for his friend's $75 million tax credit for Hollywood than the Turnpike lease.

Second, the quantification of the value of Turnpike would be a expensive endeavor for any private suitor. We're told that the process will cost upwards of $2 million for each company. So if the first point is true, then why would any company be willing to invest such large amounts of non-refundable cash in a fool's errand?

Third, lawmakers have trouble admitting they were wrong. A repeal of Act 44 would be difficult because its defenders have put themselves so far out on a limb that it is doubtful they'll be willing to come back.

Fourth, the leasing of the Turnpike would require new legislation to enable a public-private partnership. So in order to get this done, lawmakers would first have to repeal Act 44. Then implement a law permitting the lease of the Turnpike. Then work out the details of the lease. Well, that could possibly happen, but don't think that the Turnpike Commission's cronies and lobbyists will stand for it. They will quickly ramp up their misinformation campaign again in defense of their multi-billion dollar sweetheart deal.

But we'll never say never. So stay tuned...

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