October 11, 2012


OH: Ohio decides against privatization of more prisons

Ohio became the first state to sell a state-owned penitentiary to a private prison company earlier this year…. Corrections Corporation of America recently issued offers to buy prisons to 48 state governors, pitching it as a solution for indebted states. However, in order for CCA to buy the prisons, the governors would have to agree to keep those prisons at 90% capacity. The ACLU asserts that privatization would invite even more state debt, which taxpayers would be stuck with financing for at least twenty more years. The ACLU of Ohio hopes that the ODRC will also decide not to privatize prison services including food and healthcare…According to Brickner, Ohio is beginning to move toward reform for its overcrowded, congested prison system. A move toward prison privatization would have a different goal: the corporations behind privatization have financial interests is making sure that prisons stay full.  Guardian

TX: Spanish Company Signs 50-Year, For-Profit I-35W Toll Deal

The Texas Department of Transportation on Wednesday signed a 50-year deal with a Spanish company to add private, for-profit toll lanes along Interstate 35 north of downtown Fort Worth — a stretch of highway considered the most congested in the state…. The deal is with NTE Mobility Partners Segments 3 LLC, which is a subsidiary of Cintra, a Spanish company that builds similar toll roads around the world, including several in North Texas. Critics such as state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, say Texas is selling its future. “I’m against toll roads,” he said. “But I’m even more strongly against privately owned toll roads, and that’s what we’re confronting here. And frankly, the way it’s being presented is, ‘My way or the highway.'” “We shouldn’t be exporting our local transportation dollars to Spain,” he said. NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

TX: Opening date announced for 85-mph toll road

A Central Texas toll road boasting the country’s fast speed limit will open to traffic Oct. 24….Those speeds have garnered praise but also raised safety concerns. Some truck drivers and trucking companies have said they can’t safely drive at speeds that high. The new Texas 130 segment is the state’s first public-private toll road: the state owns the road and right-of-way, but a private consortium owned by Spain-based Cintra and San Antonio company Zachry American Infrastructure funded the road’s construction. Their joint venture, the SH 130 Concession Company, will pay for the road’s ongoing maintenance and operations for 50 years, according to a lease with the Texas Department of Transportation. The company and the state will share the toll revenues.  San Antonio Express

WV: Privatizing roads becomes issue in governor’s race

When the issue of privatizing some state services came up during Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Republican challenger Bill Maloney took different roads. “Privatizing roads is something people have looked at in other states,” Maloney said. “There’s a lot of things we need to look at that the private sector could probably do better.” While Tomblin called the state’s privatization of workers’ compensation insurance a success, he was reticent about privatizing other state programs or services. “There are a lot of things government does best,” he said. Asked to elaborate on Maloney’s position on privatizing state toll roads, Maloney campaign manager Seth Wimer instead issued a statement saying in part, “We’re most interested in privatizing Earl Ray Tomblin. That is our top priority.” Charleston Gazette

More People Are Riding Amtrak, But Republicans Pledge To Cut Funding

Amtrak, the federally-subsidized passenger rail that runs across the country, experienced a 3.5 percent jump in ridership last fiscal year, with a total of 31.2 million passengers taking the train. More people rode Amtrak trains last year than any time since 1971. But despite the growth in rides (and the subsequent jump in profits, as revenue from tickets grew 6.8 percent), the Republican party sees Amtrak as an unprofitable venture, and called in their platform to privatize it entirely, a move that would likely cut off train service to rural Americans who don’t live on high-frequency train routes. ThinkProgress

5 crazy things Paul Ryan actually believes

Before even his own party shot his plan down, Paul Ryan was very explicit about wanting to privatize Social Security. Ryan has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” and when George W. Bush was president, Ryan pushed a privatization agenda that was even too extreme for Bush.  Had Ryan succeeded, Social Security would have been bankrupted by the recent financial crash.  Yet despite this and broad public opposition, Ryan has continued to advocate privatization while insisting that his plan’s broad lack of popular support is due to marketing problems, not flaws with the plan itself.   Still, most Americans oppose changes to Social Security and actually support raising taxes to keep the program solvent for future generations.  Salon