Listen: Turnpike Commission, Pennsylvania, Governor Rendell discussed on The Mike Pintek Show
"Radio midday cannon here till three that gives us three hours in the first hour dominated by one of several topics. We have available to us today. And that is the PA turnpike. The governor was on earlier today with Larry and John chamois on decay, decay morning show has some things to say, and I'd love to be able to continue that conversation with you in a few minutes because I've been asking you whether in effect, the governor is right when he said people using the turnpike or paying too much and it's driving business away. We'll continue that and hearing from you from personal background professional background and things of that sort. It's been a great listen, and I've enjoyed it. A great deal now. First and foremost, I have promised you Frank camera. One of my good buddies Allegheny institute executive director, we've talked about this issue over the years many times on the television and Frank first and foremost 'grats on the move up. Although that's belated and second of all. Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk to us tonight today about this. Oh, thanks for having me today. He was thinking about your intro music. He should've police CBC for this one highway to hell, okay. See this is it. This is what happens when you have a master's degree in economics. I believe from Duke is that may not do from Clemson is that? Do you have PHD, right? Right. Right. Well that puts you on the spot them because you got Clemson and pit this week in a championship game. Can you live with yourself? I live with myself. No matter what. Because I grew up a pit fan. Saw my mom cover either way. Okay. Good for you. All right. I want you to listen to what the governor had to say this morning on the Katy k morning show. Only two and a half minutes will pick up from there as echo. Absolutely. All right. Why don't we give it a run? Governor. I spent several hours on the interstate system and turnpike over the weekend. Pennsylvania. And I'm just curious. We keep seeing tolls going up on the Pennsylvania turnpike, thanks to act eighty nine. The turnpike commission keeps having to shell out a lot of money over depend on every year. And I know that that is going to lapse at some point. But is it time to look at our system. And maybe I dunno merged the turnpike and pen dot or what can be done to make our roads. Good. But at the same time affordable because people expensive on the turnpike. Yeah. That that is an issue. And it's it's actually it's actually sort of a side arrangement that was made years ago to act eighty nine I think was that forty four and I think there's bipartisan support correctly taking a look at that. Because I think we all recognize that sun unsustainable. And it was an effort to do. It was an effort to make up for a problem. Existed writes in the store the turnpike a turnpike. Tolls were supposed to be temporary. And the idea was that they would go. Yeah. It would go away. And and it never did, obviously. And in the problem was that the money raised by told never went into into the general fund. So it was just for for doing stuff for the for the turnpike. And and and so I think the some administration years ago decided maybe what we ought to do is try to figure out a way to get some of that money into the into the general purpose for highways in Pennsylvania, not just the turnpike. And that was what this act forty four and it turned out to be just the burdensome for for the turnpike. And obviously for the people who use the turnpike, so that has a sunset clause. But I think there's an appetite maybe high hopes do something about that before the the the the sunsets. And a few years because it is it's it's unsustainable of people using the turnpike's are paying too much the turnpike really is driving business away. And and it's it's it is. Transferring money into two highways construction outside the turnpike, which was intended which is the idea, but but it's it's just too expensive for the turnpike and turnpike customer, so so you're right. We have to do something about that. All right. So there we have Frank. Franken ask you, first and foremost, what did you make of the history lesson from the governor? Well, it's it's a little off from what I heard in me. I've I've been writing about this for years. We don't want act forty four came out. It was in response to governor Rendell trying to lease the turnpike out. And so the legislation is not we only saloon hang onto it. So here's what we'll do, you know, because they, you know, the governor's partially correct? You know, governor wolf when he says, well, some of the money he said all the money goes to all the roads and bridges when in fact, less than half of it goes to roads and bridges of the four hundred fifty million dollar payment that the turnpike currently makes the pen dot every year two hundred million of that is dedicated to road and bridge work two hundred and fifty million is dedicated the mass transit projects around the state. So a lot of it and act forty four was as used as a way to help alleviate mass transit primarily in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. And so. So the fought was well, okay. If we can pull I eighty then we can use that money to help pay for mass transit in other words, roadwork. Well, the fed said, no, you can't do that federal law states that if you toll an interstate highway you've got plow that money back into the interstate. And so they would deny Pennsylvania was denied the ability of toll I eighty they were asked they asked three times denied three times solid fed transportation departments that go away. So then as sort of a plan b the legislature Rendell says, whoa, K, we'll start raising the rates. Well, actually, let me rephrase that we'll ask pen dot. We'll ask the turnpike to make a contribution depend of nine hundred million dollars a year. Now, then it was up left at the turnpike raise its toll rates to make that payment. Now, keep in mind in two thousand seven the turnpike's operating expenses were only six hundred million dollars. So you're asking them to do a huge huge favor. Now in two thousand seven when act forty four has passed and before the first payment, depend on was made the turnpike only had two point five billion dollars in debt today as the most recent kaffirs twenty seventeen twenty eighteen the turnpike sitting with twelve point nine six billion dollars in debt as a result of these payments that they had to make to the turnpike or make depend on. Okay. I've got time with you to get into it. Another segment how it's even possible to work our way out of that using any type of conventional process, but there is a little bit of a history of inefficiency mismanagement and things of that sort is it, okay? If I have a little skepticism about the answer being in just raising tolls through twenty forty four is a solution. Oh, there's a lot of skepticism there because look thought is that people using the turnpike are captive audience. They've got no choice but to pay those tolls. And that's not true. There's a number of smaller Rosa criss crosses Commowealth route twenty. U s route twenty two US Ralph thirty four example, and of course, interstate eighty the criss crosses road. You don't need to use the turnpike. If you don't have to and so a lot of smaller businesses and heck even some larger trucking companies who started using those quote, unquote, freer roads to get products. And all the end up doing is tearing up secondary roads. So it makes matters worse. Although we've had a lot of people call in the first hour saying that's exactly what they do. All right. I'm going to put you on hold and we'll come right back, and as you can see this conversation has been very much on the same page. Whether it's him or to you, or what the governor had to say to a certain extent, I want to continue we come back on Katie k radio news."