Scarnati submits op-ed by Turnpike Commission

Frothing at the mouth, President Pro-Tem Joe Scarnati cites the “evil foreign company” argument as to why he won’t allow consideration of a Turnpike lease (even though several potential bidders are US-based and financed).

We may get a few billion dollars upfront from a foreign country, but it will be a drop in the bucket compared to the well over a hundred billion dollars we send to this foreign company over the lifespan of the contract.

Scarnati’s logic is dizzying – a Turnpike lease could generate lower tolls for motorists than Act 44, and generate far more revenue for transportation infrastructure (about three times Act 44, without tolling I-80, or borrowing against gas taxes). And we would earning interest on that “few billion dollars”, rather than paying interest under Act 44. Yes, a private operator would try to earn profits, but Mr. Scarnati should understand that the private sector can be just as effective at managing toll roads as restaurants. Scarnati fails to recognize how much worse the plan he pushed through without hearings is than the plan he refused to give the time of day to.

And I think Pennsylvania taxpayers would rather see their tolls go to “profits” for shareholders (who may live in the US and even in Pennsylvania, and may include pension funds of state workers and school teachers) than to lobbying the federal government, buying radio ads to defend Scarnati’s Act 44, a six-figure salary for Vince Fumo’s gardener, jobs for Joe Brimmerier’s family, patronage jobs controlled by the President Pro-Tem of the Senate, et al.

Scarnati adds:

Maybe Congress does not mind sending our money and jobs overseas, but I will not allow them to send Pennsylvanians’ hard earned tax dollars over there.

Scarnati has it backwards – a turnpike lease would bring jobs here, i.e. we would be in-sourcing, not outsourcing, billions in foreign capital, to reinvest in our economy.

Scarnati should stop listening to turnpike lobbyist/Republican political consultant Mike Long, stop demonizing foreign companies and free markets, and at least consider competitive bidding rather than a sweetheart deal for the Turnpike Commission.