Oklahoma is yet another state joining the knee-jerk backlash against leasing public roads to private companies. Once again, Republicans are leading the charge. Oklahoma City state rep. Sally Kern is complaining about private companies requiring roads to pay their way. Toll road leases allow tolls to go up, usually at a moderate and highly regulated rate, so that the road can be upgraded and well maintained. Yet. Rep. Kern thinks taxpayers are better off funding the road:
House Bill 3182 states that the Turnpike Authority “shall not enter into any contract with a private company to sell, lease, sublease, or operate any turnpike or portion of a turnpike in this state.”
“Foreign companies have been buying turnpikes … and when they do tolls immediately go up,” Kern said.
Len Gilroy and Bob Poole have written extensively about these myths. Check out their Frequently Asked Questions and Bob Poole’s working paper on public private partnerships in Texas.