Turnpike Commission Pushes Premature Vote on Lease Plan to Kill It

House Transportation Committee may vote on lease proposal on Saturday

HARRISBURG, PA — On the heels of two days of hearings in the House Transportation Committee on the proposed Turnpike lease, lobbyists for the Turnpike Commission may have successfully pushed members of the Committee into a premature vote on the legislation as soon as tomorrow.

“We commend Chairman Joe Markosek for holding informational hearings on the proposed lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike,” said Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. “But as most legislators in attendance commented, much more information needs to be gathered before an informed decision can be made. That’s why we were pleased when the Governor decoupled this important piece of legislation from the budget process, pushing it off until September.”

“It is clear from this morning’s testimony why the Turnpike Commission wants the Committee to vote as soon as possible,” said Brouillette. “When the facts are laid bare, they understand that they simply can’t compete with the private-sector offer of $12.8 billion. The Turnpike Commission knows that with more time, their misinformation campaign will be exposed. So it is understandable why they would want to rush this vote, because uncertainty and half-truths are their only allies.”

The Commonwealth Foundation further criticized the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s CEO Joe Brimmeier for refusing to have an open discussion with Pennsylvania Transportation Partners (the group seeking to lease the Turnpike) to provide the public and legislators with a real opportunity to compare and contrast the options before the General Assembly. Brouillette said that “Instead of just hiring lobbyists to do his dirty work, Joe ought to engage in an open and transparent discussion.”

The Turnpike Commission also announced today that they would continue to stall their submission of their I-80 tolling application to the Federal Highway Administration until August. “This is even more reason for the House Transportation Committee to wait before voting on the Turnpike lease,” said Brouillette. “When the Turnpike Commission finally submits its application, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should receive an answer from the federal government on the I-80 question. This information is critical to the debate and would better inform the lease discussion in the fall.”

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The Commonwealth Foundation (www.CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA. The Commonwealth Foundation’s Questions and Answer’s about the proposed lease can be found at TurnpikeFacts.com.


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