By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
Authority for Ohio state officials to pawn off the Ohio Turnpike is one step closer to reality.
A state legislative panel voted Monday, June 27, to advance a two-year, nearly $56 billion state budget that includes a provision to pursue a lease of the turnpike.
The Senate and House must advance the budget bill to Gov. John Kasich before midnight Thursday, June 30. The new budget year begins July 1.
OOIDA is opposed to the sale or lease of public roadways. The Association belongs to a coalition called Americans for a Strong National Highway Network, which also advocates against this form of privatization.
Privatization talks are nothing new to Ohio lawmakers. This spring, Kasich signed a $6.8 billion transportation and public safety bill, which permits the state to partner with private groups to complete road work.
The toll authority allows the state to solicit partnerships for new projects. A turnpike lease was not included in the bill, but it has been a point of interest for the governor since he took office.
Kasich initially floated the idea of privatizing the 241-mile roadway. He said handing over the turnpike, which is made up of interstates 76, 80 and 90, could result in the state pocketing as much as $2.5 billion.
The budget bill would provide state lawmakers with some oversight of any turnpike lease deal.
The Legislature would write the terms of any contract to operate the road. In addition, limitations could be placed on toll increases.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Ohio, click here.
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