Scarnati’s “Save the Turnpike Commission” Plan

In an obvious attempt to divert attention from his vote and support of tolling Interstate-80, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati writes today in a Courier Express commentary that

“I, like many of you who opposed the tolling of I-80, was pleased with the decision and felt it was the appropriate decision for the citizens of the Commonwealth. It really speaks volumes to the success that can be experienced when state and local leaders work together for what is in the best interest of our communities.”

But his flip-flop on supporting the Save-the-Turnpike-Commission Act 44 — and then taking credit for getting the I-80 toll plan rejected — fails to offer any real solutions to our transportation funding crisis. Indeed, Scarnati’s plan is just rhetoric that merely serves the Senate’s primary interest of saving their patronage playground at the Turnpike Commission.

Like a few folks in the House, he suggests that the General Assembly and Gov. Rendell “rein in spending, make infrastructure a priority and find much of the revenues for our road and bridge problem in the current state budget.”

We agree that there is plenty of wasteful spending that could be cut — we’ve identified billions. But what cuts does Joe propose? Which revenues is he going to shift? None. As the leader of the Senate at the bargaining table with Rendell for the last two years, he’s had the opportunity to cut spending and shift spending priorities — and he hasn’t.

The fact is that the Turnpike lease makes good economic and public policy sense, and is the only viable means to help pay for our paving without tax increases or more bonded debt. But we should also be cutting wasteful spending AND re-prioritizing the spending in Harrisburg.