Gov. John Kasich
finally unveiled his plan for the Ohio
Turnpike and it doesn’t involve leasing the 241-mile toll road.
Many, especially community leaders in northern Ohio, had
expressed concern that Kasich wanted to lease the turnpike and turn it over to
a private operator.
That concept had fostered concerns that tolls would
dramatically rise and divert motorists to other roadways.
At first glance, it appears the governor heard and
listened to those concerns, so give him credit.
Instead, the governor wants to use toll revenues to raise
up to $3 billion for road projects. It will be interesting to see how this plan
fits into Kasich’s next biennial budget to be proposed next year.
Kasich said on Thursday that his turnpike proposal would
raise $1.5 billion through bond sales that would be paid back through future
toll revenues, and $1.5 billion could be generated through matching local and
Tolls for local passenger trips that are paid with EZ Pass
would be frozen at current levels for the next 10 years.
For all other tolls (longer passenger trips and all truck
trips), any increases will be capped at the rate of inflation, or approximately
2.7 percent annually, assuming sustained traffic growth at the historic 1
The Ohio Turnpike Commission would stay in place and
turnpike job layoffs would not be needed.
Kasich said that raising the state’s gasoline tax was not
the answer to solve a $1.6 billion highway budget deficit because an
uncertainty economy, higher gasoline prices and more fuel-efficient cars have
combined to reduce gasoline sales and state gasoline tax revenue.
Kasich wants to try a different approach by using the $1.5
billion acquired through bond sales help to fund road projects throughout
northern Ohio and allow the Ohio Department of Transportation to spend the
state’s gas taxes and federal funds on road projects downstate.
Diverting money generated by the Turnpike away to other
projects will require approval from the Ohio General Assembly, so there will be
some debate about exactly how and if that’s done.
Leaders from northern Ohio including Cuyahoga County
and three other county commissioners issued a joint
statement after Kasich revealed his turnpike plan.
They seemed pleased that the governor decided not to
privatize the turnpike but are concerned that gas tax money paid by people who
live and work in northern Ohio will be used to pay for projects in other areas.
They also want to take time to evaluate the governor’s proposal
and the overall impact it will have on the roads and economy in northern Ohio
and will seek public comment to help guide and advise them when it comes to
public infrastructure in Ohio.
Hmmm, is FitzGerald starting to act like he might be a
Democratic candidate for governor in 2014?
A bipartisan plan to change the way Ohio draws state
legislative and congressional districts cleared the state Senate by a 32-1
Under the resolution, a seven-member redistricting
commission would be established, consisting of the governor, auditor, Ohio
secretary of state and four members appointed by the legislative leaders in
each chamber. The commission would elect bipartisan co-chairs, and none of the
members could be a sitting member of the state Legislature or Congress.
Any plan proposed by the commission must receive five
votes including at least one vote from the minority party.
The Ohio House of Representatives didn't have a chance to
act on the proposal during the two-year legislative session that ended Thursday
and that chamber’s vote is needed to put the measure before voters.
Perhaps the legislation will serve as a blueprint, but for
now, what it means is we’ll just have to wait to see if the Ohio General
Assembly is really serious next year when it comes to reforming the way these
district lines are drawn.
The Lake County Democratic Party will swear in
and Judy Moran
, state Rep. John M. Rogers
, Clerk of Courts Maureen G. Kelly
, and Treasurer Lorraine M. Fende
at 2 p.m. Jan. 1
at the Performing Arts Center Theater at Lakeland Community College.
The Lake County Republican Party will swear in elected
officials on Dec. 26.
Details weren't finalized as of press time, so call the
party headquarters for details.
John Arthur Hutchison
Labels: Ed FitzGerald, John Kasich, Lake County Democratic Party, Lake County Republican Party, Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Senate, Ohio Turnpike