Updated Election Results for Nader/Gonzalez State by State

Nader/Gonzalez Opposes Pennsylvania Turnpike Ripoff Proposal

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM

Press Release
Contact: Toby Heaps, 202-441-6795, toby@votenader.org


The Nader/Gonzalez campaign opposes a proposal currently being pushed to grant a 75-year lease on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to private interests.

Citigroup-Albertis, a business consortium, won a $12.8 billion bid to takeover the turnpike which is currently maintained and operated by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The state legislator must approve the deal before being validated.

The proposal would allow Citigroup-Albertis to raise tolls 25% next year and 2.5%, or the rate of inflation, every year after that. Pennsylvania state legislators and other opponents also point out that the low-ball figure offered to purchase the lease is much lower than the turnpike's value and will do virtually nothing to help the state's longterm economic viability.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is currently at odds with pro-business groups attempting to sway opinion in their favor through a misleading campaign; however, Pennsylvanians remain largely against the lease, which would have private interests control the turnpike until 2085. According to a Qunnipiac University poll taken last month, 60% of Pennsylvanians are against the against the lease, while just 29% approve.

The Teamsters worker's union yesterday presented lawmakers with a petition signed by more than 100,000 residents who oppose the lease.

During a previous discussion on the proposal, Joseph Markosek, Pennsylvania state legislator and chairman of the transportation committee firmly declared that "the majority of members of the committee are dead-set against the lease... There is no realistic scenario under which this deal will happen."

The proof is in the pudding: On June 19, 2008, The Pennsylvania House voted 185-12 against the lease proposal and the state Senate, one week later, voted 49-0 on a measure that "stipulates that the Legislature must approve the lease of the Turnpike to private companies."

However, the proposal may go up for another vote soon with the backing of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and two influential legislators in the House, whose isolated support for the lease doesn't appear to be impacting public or the legislature's opinion on the issue.

Despite overwhelming opposition to the lease, Rendell is taking a dangerous gamble by turning his back on the interest of his state and instead siding with special interests attempting to rip-off Pennsylvanians.

Nader/Gonzalez support the citizens and legislators who stand firmly against this lease designed to play Pennsylvanians for suckers. The auctioning off of public works at fire sale prices is an example of the worst kind of public policy that sells our future short.