"Political ploy designed to create a re-election year slush fund."
(Columbus) - Democrats aren't happy with Gov. John Kasich's plans to use the Ohio Turnpike's future profits to back $1.5 billion in bonds to pay for road and bridge projects.
"It's clear that this is political ploy designed to create a re-election year slush fund so he may go around the state and hand out things to folks who are in need," said Rep. John Patrick Carney, a Clintonville Democrat.
Other Democrats argue the plan will raise the cost of doing business due to increased tolls for driving the entire length of the Ohio Turnpike. The Kasich plan would freeze rates for 10 years on
local trips paid for with the EZ-Pass system. It would also cap any toll increases at the rate of inflation.
One complaint from counties in northern Ohio was that money from any deal would be sent around the state. Kasich says 90 percent of the proceeds will stay north of U.S. 30.
"If anybody wants to believe that northern Ohio is going to benefit any better from this than anyone else - heck no!," said Rep. Ron Gerberry of Canfield.
Gerberry also raised concerns about borrowing such a large amount of money against future tolls. Elyria Rep. Matt Lundy thinks this is simply another example of Gov. Kasich putting Ohioans against Ohioans.
"Working families against business, union - non-union, and now we're going to try to pit northern Ohio against southern Ohio," he said.
He worries that people in southern Ohio will look at northern Ohioans as being selfish for opposing this plan, but he argues it's not fair for those paying tolls to have to bankroll projects in other parts of the state.
"They're not paying that fee to repair something in Cincinnati or Columbus or anywhere else," said Rep. Dan Ramos of Lorain.
Democrats also took issue with having to learn about Kasich's plan through the media. Rep. Bob Hagan said it isn't a way to foster bi-partisanship.
"You want to reach across the aisle, governor, you shouldn't reach across the aisle and slap us in the face. That's exactly what he did," Hagan said.
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