Oberlander, Vereb and Other PA Lawmakers Unveil Legislation to Abolish Corruption-Infested PA Turnpike Commission

HARRISBURG – Reps. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong) and Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery) along with nearly a dozen lawmakers from across the Commonwealth hosted a state Capitol press conference today to unveil Oberlander’s legislation to abolish the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. 

House Bill 1197 would cede all operations, maintenance, construction and other responsibilities to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). 

“In order to address the critical issue of transportation funding, we must first eliminate all inefficiencies and excess,” said Oberlander.   “The legislation I am introducing here today will completely ELIMINATE the outdated and well-documented corruption-infested PA Turnpike Commission and create the Bureau of Toll Administration within PennDOT.”

A 44-month grand jury investigation revealing untold millions of public dollars being squandered through “pay-to-play” corruption and political patronage; a lack of competitive bidding; a 42.5 percent toll increase; and, most recently, a $3.5 billion Moody’s downgrade of the Turnpike Commission’s bond rating are just some of the antiquated and mismanaged aspects cited during today’s press conference and to further illustrate the need for a new way to operate Pennsylvania’s longstanding toll highway.

“Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s grand jury report verified what I’ve been trying to prove for more than three years.  This wasn’t corruption of the commission; it was organized crime which has now formed into a tumor beyond radiation,” said Vereb. “This isn’t a partisan issue; it is simply about having legislators with political courage stand up for our hard-working taxpayers of Pennsylvania to streamline our government.”

If House Bill 1197 is signed into law, PennDOT must honor any collective bargaining agreement in existence between the Turnpike Commission and any employee organization.  Also, the legislation stipulates that the Commonwealth will assume the debt for the outstanding bonds of the Turnpike Commission.

To compare, PennDOT is run by seven executives and manages more than 41,000 miles of roadway.  That equals one executive for every 5,857 miles of state roadway.  The Turnpike Commission is run by nine executives and is in charge of 545 miles of roadway.  That equals one executive for every 60 miles of roadway on the turnpike.   Additionally, PennDOT uses internal staff to act as government liaisons with the General Assembly, whereas the Turnpike Commission hires contract lobbyists at significant cost.  

“Passage of my legislation would eliminate all of the Turnpike Commission’s self-created, corruption-infested potholes by giving PennDOT full authority to oversee all of Pennsylvania’s roadways,” said Oberlander.  “There is absolutely no reason why Pennsylvania taxpayers should be forced to foot the bill to have two government organizations dealing with transportation issues.  By moving the oversight of the turnpike under PennDOT where it rightfully belongs, we will cut down on government bureaucracy, decrease administrative costs and bring more accountability to the people of this Commonwealth.”    

House Bill 1197 has been referred to the House Transportation Committee. 

Representative Donna Oberlander
63rd District
Representative Mike Vereb
150th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Ty McCauslin, 717.772.9979
Lauren Whetzel, 717.260.6451
RepOberlander.com / Facebook.com/RepOberlander
RepVereb.com / Facebook.com/RepMikeVereb
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