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COLUMBUS –With the recent decision by the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission to support Governor Kasich’s plan for the Turnpike, consumer watchdog organization Ohio Public Interest Research Group (Ohio PIRG) joins others around the state in breathing a collective sigh of relief that privatization is officially off the table.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission voted unanimously to support Governor Kasich’s proposal. The Commission will vote on a formal resolution approving the proposal at their next meeting. After nearly two years of touting privatization of the Turnpike as a possible source of needed infrastructure funds, Governor Kasich has dismissed the idea amid broad public opposition and proposed public bonding instead.
Tabitha Woodruff, Ohio PIRG Advocate and co-author of a recent report on the Turnpike, hopes this sends a message to future elected leaders. “This is not the first or last time Ohioans have defeated attempts to privatize their Turnpike,” Woodruff said. “While we are relieved, we should stop short of applauding the Governor for defeating his own bad idea.”
In 2006, J. Kenneth Blackwell, former Secretary of State of Ohio, ran for Governor while touting a proposal to privatize the Ohio Turnpike for 99 years for 4 to 6 billion dollars. His proposal was met with great public opposition and he was subsequently defeated in the gubernatorial election.
“I opposed privatization from the beginning, and I’m glad Governor Kasich decided to listen to the people,” echoed Mayor Gary Starr of Middleburg Heights, a city located directly on the Turnpike. “The Ohio Turnpike has been a shining example of government success because it’s run by public employees. Not all government is bad; in this case, it has been working, so leave it alone.”
Other present and former public officials have voiced their relief, while maintaining reservations about the newly proposed plan to borrow through public bonds and disperse the funds statewide.
“I am pleased that Governor Kasich listened to the concerns I and others from northern Ohio have expressed on behalf of our constituents and presented a proposal that, unlike sale or lease to a foreign entity, we can consider as a viable option,” said State Representative Mike Dovilla (R-Berea). “While I maintain reservations about the diversion of Turnpike dollars to other uses, I recognize the need for our state to be more innovative in its use of assets, particularly in the area of infrastructure.”
Tabitha Woodruff from Ohio PIRG is available for comment: firstname.lastname@example.org, (419) 575-7044
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