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Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Transportation Committee Cerberus

Rep. Joe Markosek wants to become the next Cerberus of the General Assembly. Of course, that title is currently held by Rep. Babette Josephs for bottling up all sorts of good government reforms in the House State Government Committee.

Markosek, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has determined that he knows what's best not only for the members of his committee, but also the rest of the General Assembly and Pennsylvania. He said that the lease proposal won't "see the light of day" as long as he's chairman.

While we don't doubt Markosek's sincerity in opposing the lease opportunity, we do challenge his all-powerful wisdom in taking a viable option off of the table (particularly because the tolling of I-80 is not settled yet) and suggesting that he won't even allow his committee to further consider the idea.

Say what you will about the lease idea, but no elected official should be able to stymie any legislation simply because he/she personally is personally opposed. One Cerebus in the General Assembly is already one too many!

Leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike deserves a full and fair consideration ... unlike the bill Markosek rammed through last year (Act 44) that expanded the Turnpike Commission, put us in bonded debt, and may put tolls on I-80 to further subsidize Philly and Pittsburgh's mass transit problems.

If there ever was a bad idea that never should have seen the light of day, it is Act 44, which passed Markosek's committee and the General Assembly long before it came into the public's light of day.


Anonymous said...

Albertis had an opportunity to present their case on why they think that a leasing deal is better. The deal is not better than the current ACT 44 as proved by the amount of money the deal will actually be worth. Around 7.9 billion is a far cry from the 30 billion they were talking about last year. Face it Matt its over. Why don't you concentrate more on why Septa and the Port Authority should be privatized as they lose money each year.

Commonwealth Foundation said...


Your factually erroneous post makes our case that the lease should not be removed from the table by a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Turnpike Commission.

First, Abertis has not been able to make their case yet. The Turnpike Commission has polluted the political waters for 18 months now. The lease opportunity was only placed on the table in late May, and the two-day dog and pony show by Markosek actually blew up in his face. It was the Turnpike Commission that was on the hot seat trying to explain itself, not Abertis. It was no wonder that Markosek was pushing a quick vote. He understands that the more people learn about the Turnpike Commission and Act 44, the more they will embrace the lease.

Second, your Turnpike Commission talking point of $7.9 billion is so fraught with calculation errors you should be embarrassed (hence, why I suspect you go by "Anonymous" instead of ML or PS or BJ or one of the many other guns hired with our toll dollars). It is settled that after the balancing of the books (depending on when the deal is finalized), the total investment amount from the $12.8 billion cash payment is $10 to $10.5 billion.

Finally, we HAVE concentrated on SEPTA and PAT privatization. We even met with Markosek about the idea early last year. He and no others in the General Assembly with any power are willing to take on the unions that are driving those mass transit systems into the red with our tax money. Sure would be nice to get support for that like the Governor gave the Turnpike lease. Until then, we'll keep working on opportunities that still hold promise, like the Turnpike lease.