The Ohio Turnpike, one of our greatest assets in the state, will not end up in the hands of private ownership. The governor has wisely backed away from his extreme plan for the turnpike. I want to thank all of you who worked together with me in our fight to keep the turnpike under public control.
The governor is pushing the results of a new study in which he wants to raise $1.5 billion with a bond issue backed by turnpike tolls. This amount would be combined with local and federal matches to yield nearly $3 billion for road projects away from the turnpike. Tolls would rise only at the rate of inflation.
We all want to see road projects in Lorain County move forward at a faster pace. However, bonding means borrowing money and adding more debt to the turnpike’s existing debt of $566 million. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has used a similar approach of borrowing to fund non-turnpike projects. Its debt has grown from $2 billion in 2002 to $7 billion today, and forecasts are calling for the debt to grow by an additional $ 4 billion in the next 10 years.
Pennsylvania’s State Auditor is warning that the ongoing practice could bankrupt his state’s turnpike.
We are being told in Columbus that the governor wants to see legislation passed early this year to move forward on what will be the use of one-time money borrowed against future tolls we will pay to use the turnpike. I will continue to raise concerns and to stress that we must find a reasonable and fiscally responsible approach.
Feel free to contact me with your questions and concerns about this issue and other state issues at our new email address Rep55@ohiohouse.gov or at our regular phone 614-644-5076. I work for you and look forward to serving you.