June 19, 2013


VA: A Va. judge’s transportation roadblock. Judge Cales decided that a plan to have a private developer toll users for $2.1 billion in tunnel upgrades in crowded Hampton Roads is unconstitutional. Only the state has the power to tax and that’s what tolls really are, Cales ruled. If his ruling holds, a number of critically important highways that involve privately operated facilities, such as parts of Interstate 495 in Northern Virginia, Route 895 near Richmond and a proposed $1.3 billion toll road from Petersburg to Suffolk, could be affected. State contracts for all of them could be voided. If so, it would be a huge defeat for Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and earlier governors who have made good use of the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995 to push ahead with highways that the tax-averse state otherwise was too short of money to build. Washington Post

How Wash. fared when state stores died. Access to spirits exploded, with the number of liquor licensees going from under 400 to almost 1,500. Liquor sales rose. Prices went up, too – thanks to new taxes that were part of the referendum. Some voters grumbled that they missed the fine print. While the state is struggling with billion-dollar budget deficits, its revenue from post-privatization liquor sales has climbed at a pace that exceeded projections. Customers have flocked to stores across the border in Oregon and Idaho, where liquor always cost less but is now even cheaper by comparison. Fears that privatization would cause a spike in alcoholism and alcohol-related crimes have not been realized – aside from an uptick in shoplifting. Even so, Julia Dilley, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, said, “We think alcohol consumption has increased.” She is collecting data to see if alcohol-related hospitalizations and traffic crash rates have changed. Philly.com

PA: Beer muscles on display in senate liquor privatization bill. Those facts played out Tuesday when a Republican state senator unveiled his long-awaited plan to privatize liquor sales in a way vastly different and much slower than the two-year proposal favored by Corbett and the Republican-controlled House. Allentown Morning Call

OH: City manager signs lease to privatize parking system. Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. signed the parking lease Tuesday for the outsourcing of the city’s parking system….The plan would lease the city’s parking meters to Port Authority for the next 30 years, and lease city-owned parking lots and garages for up to 50 years. Despite all this, several council members have expressed that city administration should reconsider the deal.   FOX19

LA: LSU hospital deal questioned. The Louisiana Civil Service Commission notwithstanding, the state may not yet be out of the woods with its plan to privatize nine of 10 LSU hospitals and clinics that provide medical care for the state’s poor and uninsured. Tri Parish Times

IN: Get ready to pay more! Indiana Toll Road rates going up. The ITR Concession Company, which owns and manages the Toll Road under a 75-year lease agreement, is raising rates for all 7 levels of axle vehicles. For example, a passenger car will pay $9.70 to travel the Toll Road from end to end…But drivers want the brakes put on any rate hike, no matter how small, after recent spikes in gas prices. “It’s kind of ridiculous,” said Brian Garbrecht, a driver of Illinois. “We’re already paying so much for gas, and tolls are already expensive as it is.” WSBT-TV

FL: Pines, charter school teachers reach deal. More than 300 teachers won’t be losing their jobs and parents and students don’t have to fear that the day-to-day operations of the city’s charter system will be privatized — at least for another two years. The agreement between the Broward Teachers Union, which represents the Pines teachers, and the city says all teachers will give up last year’s raise and will be paid according to the Broward County Public Schools pay scale resulting in a pay cut for two-thirds of the teachers. The city agreed not to contract with a management company to operate the schools for at least two years.  Sun-Sentinel