OHIO GOV. John Kasich appears to be a good listener. He also displays an ability of being politically flexible.
Kasich has been touting for two years how much money the state coffers could realize by selling or leasing the Ohio Turnpike. His stance was one that yielded a vocal bipartisan chorus of opposition. Critics feared such a plan would result in toll increases and job losses.
Those fears are now a moot point.
Kasich exhibited his political savy again last week. He had a change of heart on his plans to privatize the turnpike.
Rather of selling or leasing the heavily traveled roadway, the first-term Republican wants to borrow against future toll revenue to generate up to $3 billion for highway and bridge construction projects.
Kasich’s decision, while surprising, silenced many of his opponents. Obviously, he bowed to the court of public opinion.
Kasich’s bond-selling proposal is not totally embraced.
Critics now question Kasich about taking on more debt and how the new construction money will be divided. While those fears may be legitimate ones, we believe Kasich traveled the correct avenue.
The turnpike employs some 800 workers. A countless number of those would have been jettisoned to the unemployment lines. Moreover, a private operator would have undoubtedly hiked toll rates.
Also, if Kasich’s plan plays out as he hopes, the state will get more revenue out of the toll road while also filling a huge highway budget deficit.
We commend Kasich on his new turnpike game plan. It will hopefully save jobs, raise much-needed revenue and improve Ohio roadways.