Apparently the leading candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination (according to the Chicago Tribune pollster), Jim Ryan, has called for privatizing the Illinois Tollway.
Actually, I see in the Daily Herald, Ryan wants to sell it.
One of his DuPage County opponents, Kirk Dillard has found my email address (Ryan hasn’t yet) and offers the following reaction seen below.
Dillard, by the way, is coming to Crystal Lake’s 1776 restaurant tomorrow morning from 8-9:30 to meet folks. Complimentary breakfast will be available at the event being hosted by State Senator Pam Althoff.
Dillard’s press release follows:
Dillard Statement on Privatizing the Tollway System
LISLE, Ill- State Senator Kirk Dillard, Republican candidate for governor, today released the following statement regarding Jim Ryan’s support of privatizing the tollway:
“It sounds like Jim Ryan is taking a page out of Rod Blagojevich’s playbook and looking for short-term solutions to the state budget problems. It’s a risky scheme that threatens motorists, primarily suburban drivers, with massive toll increases and could put current bondholders in jeopardy.
“When other states have privatized their toll roads, tolls have skyrocketed, just like parking meter rates in the city of Chicago. I successfully worked with then State Senator and current Congressman Peter Roskam to protect motorists when Blagojevich tried to do the same thing.
“Let’s not lose site of the fact that suburban drivers have tossed hundreds of millions of nickels, dimes and quarters into the toll baskets for the past 50 years. The only way I would even consider leasing the tollway is if there is a guarantee the money would be used for infrastructure and after consultation with economists, transportation experts and leaders from areas served by the toll roads.”
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Privatizing is not the same as selling a public asset. Privatizing the tollway might make it more efficient. I remember Jim Thompson named one of his State Policeman body guards as his first Tollway director. He started cutting employees and trying to save money and got the boot. Replacing him was Thompson’s chief fund raiser.