February 18, 2015


MO: Toll option still on the table for I-70 rebuild. In a report to the governor on tolling options, MoDOT estimated that a trip across the state on I-70 would cost $20-$30 per car and $40-$90 for trucks. If tolling moves forward in Missouri, a study would need to be done to determine rates, toll plaza locations and governance of the roads. None of those decisions can be made until lawmakers act. State Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said all options are on the table for I-70. But he thinks the more pressing issue is the overall funding crisis for MoDOT’s entire system. If lawmakers were to move forward with the toll option, it would still have to go before voters. A proposed sales tax to fund the I-70 project was voted down last year. MoDOT has approval from the Federal Highway Administration to rebuild I-70 as a toll road. But that approval will expire if something is not done. ABC17News.com

SC: Columbia City Council passes ordinance to avoid privatization of water, sewer system. Columbia City Council unanimously passed a measure Tuesday night to allow City Manager Teresa Wilson to receive proposals to make the city’s system efficient without turning over control to a private company. Council convened within the past week and brought back an ordinance that would keep privatization of the water and sewer system off the table as city officials try to repair public utilities. “Often times we want it both ways,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “We have to seek efficiencies, but at the same time we have to invest in our system. If, in fact, we’re going to improve infrastructure, we have to invest.” ColaDaily.com

WI: As Scott Walker mulls White House bid, a spotlight on his jobs agency. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a public-private body set up by Walker shortly after he took office in January 2011, was supposed to help the state climb out of recession by shedding bureaucratic rules and drawing on private-sector expertise. But the WEDC has fallen short of its own goals by tens of thousands of jobs and failed to keep track of millions of dollars it has handed out. One reason for the agency’s disappointing performance: Walker’s overhaul of the state bureaucracy drove away seasoned development workers, economic development experts who work closely with the agency told Reuters. Critics say the WEDC’s struggles highlight a significant gap in Walker’s resume as he lays the groundwork for a likely Republican presidential bid in the 2016 election: his middling record on job creation. Reuters

OH: Kasich budget plan increases funding to all charter schools. Charter-school funding in Ohio could exceed $1 billion by 2017 under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed two-year budget, which provides increases to every school. Columbus Dispatch

OH: Ohio highway projects get boost from bonds, logo sales. Partnering with private businesses, offering sponsorships along highways and selling $1 billion in Ohio Turnpike bonds are among ways Gov. John Kasich’s administration has worked to boost transportation revenue amid lagging federal outlays. . . . The state opted against selling naming rights along the turnpike — say, to sports teams — after negative public feedback. But it has let companies promote themselves by putting their names on road signs, trucker lounges, snow plows and pet-walking areas. The Trucker

IL: A look at Rahm Emanuel’s privatized Chicago – audio. Writer Rick Perlstein joins Rick Kogan to talk about his latest piece for In These Times, “How to Sell Off a City“, The article looks at Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago’s trend of privatization: the transfer of the ownership of public resources (schools, government services, etc…) to owners who turn a profit from their use. WGN Radio

ID: Sportsmen rally against federal land-grab by state. A packed Montana Capitol rotunda Monday played host to hundreds of opponents rallying against the proposed transfer of federal land to state ownership, with speakers blasting the idea as the first step toward privatizing public lands, according to a story in the Helena Independent-Record. Sportsmen and conservation groups organized the rallies in Montana and Idaho. The Spokesman Review (blog)

NJ: Now They Want to Privatize Wildlife Management – No, I’m Not Kidding. . . As if Gov. Christie’s recent privatization of NJ’s water resources wasn’t bad enough, they’ve gone way too far now. And this one has the Keep It Green Coalition and/or NJ Audubon’s fingerprints all over it. I am referring to proposed legislation (S2624), sponsored by Republican Senator Kip Bateman, that would establish a “private wildlife” management program. WolfeNotes.com

FL: RCBOE voices concerns over new ‘failing’ school legislation. The legislation, unveiled last week, calls for a statewide “district” of “consistently failing schools” scoring under 60 on the Department of Education’s College and Career Readiness Performance Index for three consecutive years. The state of Georgia could assume complete operation of a designated “failing” school, partner with local school districts to run it, convert it to a charter school or close it. . . Board member Charlie Hannah said the new legislation not only comes at a stressful time for school districts, but could also “hurt the students that need the most help.”. . . If this is passed, I’m afraid it will lead to increased privatization of schools … and that will just hurt underprivileged kids the most.” The Augusta Chronicle

NY: SUNY New Paltz to host ‘Challenging the Attacks on Public Education’. SUNY New Paltz will host a panel discussion “Challenging the Attacks on Public Education: Carrying on the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement” on March 3. While corporate education policy makers claim to be advocates of civil rights, their policies have instead undermined the civil and human rights of students, parents, educators and local communities, according to a press release about the event. The Daily Freeman

Opinion: Politicians should ditch ALEC. In December, eBay became the latest major company to cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). More and more U.S. corporations are growing wary of public backlash from the think tank’s legacy of controversial policy advocacy. . . . The company’s exit follows Google’s, Yahoo’s, Facebook’s and Yelp’s decisions in September to end their membership in ALEC. Coca-Cola, General Motors, Walmart and a number of other Fortune 500 companies have severed ties with ALEC over the last two years as well. Corporate leaders are realizing that the conservative think tank is too radical to represent their interests. ALEC promotes state and local legislation to eliminate the minimum wage, privatize public education and oppose campaign finance reform. It is time our politicians also recognize that ALEC is out of touch with mainstream American values and stop treating the group as a constructive player in our legislative processes.   Al Jazeera America