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Monday, January 28, 2008

PTC: We Not Spread Lies

PA Turnpike Commission's Tim Carson sent a letter to Toll Roads News in response to their story about the lack of caps on Turnpike tolls under Act 44 (Copy of Letter here). Carson make a couple of claims which are dubious.

1) He claims that the PTC has been perfectly honest about the lack of caps on Turnpike tolls. Toll Roads News, however, points out numerous examples of PTC (and Carson in particular) repeating the claim that Act 44 "permits" toll increases of 25% in 2009 and 3% thereafter.

Technically, those statements are accurate - Act 44 does "permit" such toll increases, but it also permits toll increases well above and beyond that level. Given the Turnpike Commission's refrain of high, unlimited tolls under a lease, it is hard to argue they aren't being deceptive.

2) He claims Act 44 has been on the books for many months, and has been well examined - implying that everyone should have been aware of the lack of caps. But the revelation about uncapped tolls seemed surpising to many, including Brad Bumsted of the Tribune Review, who has followed the issue closely, and believes many lawmakers were also fooled.

It is one thing to claim that lawmakers, media, and Toll Roads News were ignorant of facts that were plain as day - it is another thing when a $700,000 lobbying effort tried to obscure such fact.

In other PTC news today:

  • Joe Grata has a story on the PTC $1 million on "Chiefs" (i.e. senior staff with Chief in their title) and 103 management employees earning over $80,000 in salary.
  • Post-Gazette editorial questions the high cost lobbying done by the Turnpike Commission, and wonders how much lobbying goes on by other public agencies.
  • USA Today has a story about rising tolls across the US, with special mention of PA.

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