May 1, 2012

Headlines
Federal program subsidizes toll roads
VA: Virginia considers 2 jail firms with sketchy pasts
OH: Cost of Ohio Turnpike study increases to $3.4 million
Chuck Colson’s prison ministry accused of favoring Christians

Federal program subsidizes toll roads
TIFIA, which stands for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, is administered by the Federal Highway Administration. The scope is to provide credit assistance in the form of direct loans to states and agencies to complete significant transportation projects. An overview report released this month shows that more TIFIA projects of late involve tolling as the preferred source for repayment of the loans…Truckers who pay the tolls worry about where their money goes, especially when a percentage of the toll revenue is set aside to guarantee profit for the project investors….TIFIA has become a buzzword in DC of late as lawmakers discuss ways to speed up project delivery and cut red tape. Congress is considering a provision in its surface transportation authorization bill to provide more seed money for the TIFIA program. Land Line

VA: Virginia considers 2 jail firms with sketchy pasts
Virginia is considering privatizing its sole facility fully devoted to treating sexually violent predators, but the two companies in the running have a history of multimillion-dollar legal settlements and illicit behavior that includes a charge of “deliberate indifference” to sexual misconduct between staff and youths at a facility. The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is evaluating proposals from private prison-operating companies GEO Care Inc. and Liberty Healthcare Corp. to take over the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville because of an increase in the number of offenders and concerns about costs…Despite a long history of operating such facilities, the two companies have dubious records in other states. Washington Times

OH: Cost of Ohio Turnpike study increases to $3.4 million
The cost of studying the Ohio Turnpike’s future has increased to $3.4 million after the state approved payments for two law firms consulting on the issue…The study team led by Texas-based KPMG Corporate Finance LLC will advise the state by the end of the year on a variety of options. Some options under consideration would include leasing the turnpike to a private operator, maintaining public ownership and operation, or using a mix of public ownership and private operation. Some northern Ohio leaders do not want major changes to the turnpike. They fear that privatizing it would lead to toll increases and poor maintenance and could cause truck traffic to use toll-free roads, making them less safe. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Niles Democrat, said money allocated to the turnpike study would be better spent in other areas such as early childhood education.”We’re blowing money on a firm from Texas to study this stuff,” Ryan said. The Trucker

Chuck Colson’s prison ministry accused of favoring Christians
…Religious programs have always been around prison, of course, but the Christian ones in particular got a boost in federal funding once George W. Bush became president, bringing with him to Washington a “solution” to prison problems he’d devised and implemented in Texas: Use the faith-based community to bring about changes in the violence and high rates of recidivism common to incarceration. The state clearly wanted out of the business of rehabilitation and it was an appealing notion to pass off a government function to the private sector, not to mention it was setting the table for privatization. The only problem is, there no evidence such a strategy works—recidivism rates remain stubbornly high in Texas, in spite of all the proselytizing. Daily Beast

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