This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Auditor General Nominee John Brown


Radio Program Schedule for the week of September 24, 2016 – September 30, 2016

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • David Taylor of the PA Manufacturers Association, is joined by Kevin Shivers and Neal Lesher from the National Federation of Independent Business-PA for a Capitol Watch interview with John Brown, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania Auditor General
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on turnpike fare dollars being siphoned off to Penn-DOT

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Vikrant Reddy of the Charles Koch Foundation about efforts at criminal justice reform
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the approaching federal budget deadline
  • Eric Boehm is joined by Jesse Hathaway of the Heartland Institute for a Reason Radio look at Chicago’s latest effort to fund public employee pensions
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on affluent fear

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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Road to Ruin: PennDOT Drains Turnpike Cash


The Pennsylvania Turnpike is America’s first superhighway.  It also has become one of the most expensive roads in the country to travel.  If you are in a passenger car driving the entire length of the turnpike from the Delaware River Bridge in the east to Gateway in the west it will cost you $42.30 if you pay cash, $30.32 if you have an E-Z Pass.

Traversing the Pennsylvania Turnpike gets more expensive for truck traffic, significantly more expensive.  That same east-west trip for the heaviest and largest of trucks costs $1,634.35.  As if that isn’t bad enough, recent annual fare hikes are projected to continue into the foreseeable future.

Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone state and for good reason.  Geographically we are centrally located for both north-south and east-west traffic destined for some of the nation’s most populous cities.  For decades the turnpike has been a key traffic route, but now both freight haulers and passenger cars are seeking out other routes – such as Interstate 81 that, while a bit out of the way for some, charge no tolls.

These facts have not escaped the attention of state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale who recently sounded alarm bells over the turnpike’s fragile fiscal situation.  In his audit of turnpike practices DePasquale said: “The plan for the turnpike’s financial future relies on projections calling for a 215% increase in toll revenue between 2015 and 2035 and a 44% increase in traffic volume through 2044.  However, traffic volume has remained relatively flat over the last decade.”

These two projections are inherently contradictory as basic economics dictates that consumers use less of a product as prices rise – especially if prices rise at a much faster rate than the income of the purchaser.  Thus, we can expect the past decade’s “relatively flat” traffic volumes to either remain so, or perhaps even decline as such significant toll hikes continue to be implemented.

It would be easy to blame mismanagement and the turnpike commissions’ often criticized hiring and contracting practices for these annual rate hikes.  But, in this case the problem has been caused by the state legislature, not by turnpike administration.  Act 44 of 2007 requires the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to make payments of $450 million per year to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).  PennDOT then spends the money on highway maintenance and on subsidizing mass transit operations.  Since the passage of Act 44, $5.2 billion in fare revenue has been diverted from turnpike operations to PennDOT.

Act 44 was passed with the unrealistic expectation that Interstate 80 would be converted to a toll road operated by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. That revenue would offset the mandated subsidy to PennDOT.  State officials appealed to both the Bush and Obama administrations for approval of the scheme, but were rejected. As a result the turnpike has been saddled with making annual payments to PennDOT and no source to fund those transfers except annual fare hikes.

The legislative mandate is also having another impact: the turnpike is reducing planned spending on maintenance, improvements, and expansion. An ambitious rebuilding plan that includes expansion of the turnpike to six lanes in many areas has already been reduced by $1 billion over the next ten years.  DePasquale pointed out the folly of the situation stating: “You can’t cut back on construction and increase traffic 44%, especially while jacking up the toll rates.”

The subsidies to PennDOT are scheduled to end in 2022, but by then the turnpike’s financial situation will be dire. Worse, legislators will then have to determine how to fund the insatiable appetite for subsidies required by the state’s money-losing mass transit systems.

This problem should have been addressed two years ago when the legislature passed and Governor Tom Corbett signed into law a defacto 30-cent per gallon increase in gasoline taxes.  That would have been the time to end “haphazard funding gimmicks” such as Act 44 and placed both the Pennsylvania Turnpike and PennDOT on solid financial footing.

It didn’t happen then. But it needs to happen now before, as Auditor General DePasquale concluded, the system collapses “and leaves the turnpike and people who rely on public transit systems across the state in a world of hurt.”

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: State Treasurer Nominee Otto Voit


Radio Program Schedule for the week of September 17, 2016 – September 23, 2016

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry has a Newsmaker interview with Otto Voit, Republican nominee for Pennsylvania State Treasurer
  • Frank Gamret and Eric Montarti have an Allegheny Institute Report on the cost of educating public school students
  • Beth Anne Mumford from Americans for Prosperity-PA has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on congressional lame duck seasons

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Phil Kerpen of American Commitment about the Dakota access pipeline
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the GOP’s increasingly good chances of retaining control of the U.S. Senate
  • Eric Boehm of Reason Magazine takes a look at Atlanta’s effort to bring back streetcars
  • Dr. Paul Kengor from the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College has an American Radio Journal commentary on why the presidential race is so close

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Brad Bumsted Talks Keystone Corruption


Radio Program Schedule for the week of September 10, 2016 – September 16, 2016

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • David Taylor of the PA Manufacturers Association is joined for a Capitol Watch look at corruption in Pennsylvania with Brad Bumsted author of Keystone Corruption Continues
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on regulation uber alles

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Dr. Tracy Miller of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University about paying for roads and bridges
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on congress’ Fall agenda
  • Lowman Henry talks with Dr. Alan Axelrod author of the new book Full Faith and Credit about the danger of the skyrocketing national debt
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on the passing of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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Regulation Uber Alles


In nearly every study of state-by-state economic competitiveness Pennsylvania ranks near the bottom.  The most recent Keystone Business Climate Survey conducted by the Lincoln Institute found 53% of business owners and chief executive officers think our business climate is getting worse, only six percent think it is improving.

State government is doing everything in its power to prove them correct.

Two recent cases of regulatory excess and job crushing taxation illustrate the point.  The first involves the ride sharing company Uber; the second is the vaping industry.  Ride sharing and vaping have little in common aside from the fact both are being victimized by state government over-reach.  Sadly, they are just the latest example of how public policy in Penn’s Woods discourages business growth and job creation.

In the case of Uber it is an un-elected government regulatory agency, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) that has levied an $11.4 million fine because the firm supposedly operated for six months without the appropriate license.  I use the word supposedly because the Uber concept was so innovative it did not fit neatly into any existing regulatory category.  What we have here is not a company flaunting the law, but a hyde-bound bureaucracy unable to keep pace with technological advancements.

Rather than work with Uber, the regulators flexed their muscle by issuing a cease and desist order – which Uber ignored.  Uber thus committed the greatest of sins: failure to bow before the power of the bureaucrats.  So out-of-bounds is the fine that Governor Tom Wolf and Republican legislative leaders urged the PUC to reconsider.  Those folks don’t normally agree on much, so their unity on behalf of Uber was striking.

For its part Uber remains committed to Pennsylvania.  The company is testing a new driverless system in Pittsburgh.  Apparently if such a system can navigate the circular roads, hills and bridges of the Steel City it will work anywhere.  That research has brought much needed jobs to the southwestern part of the state – something the PUC apparently failed to take into consideration.

It’s not just regulators who are crushing jobs; some legislators are doing their part.  After splurging on $1.4 billion in new spending in this year’s budget lawmakers went in search of the revenue to pay for their spending spree.  Part of the answer was to impose a 40% tax on vaping stock.

Vaping is an alternative to smoking that utilizes what is in effect a personal vaporizer to turn vaping liquid or juice into steam.  Such liquids can be infused with various amount of nicotine – or none at all – and has been known to help smokers quit using tobacco products.  As vaping has become more popular mom and pop vape shops have sprouted across the commonwealth.

A 40% tax on any product or service is excessive, but in the case of the nascent vaping industry it is a killer.  Since the tax is applied to any items in stock at the time the tax takes effect next month it will crush many if not most of the small businesses.  For example, if a shop had $100,000.00 of vaping stock on hand they will immediately have to write the commonwealth a check for $40,000.00.  For some that exceeds their annual profit margin.

The end result is one of the few industries available for first time or small entrepreneurs will close and disappear, or the industry will be dominated by a few larger operations capable of surviving the tax onslaught.  The end result will be fewer small businesses, lost jobs and fewer choices for consumers.  Oh, and those sales and personal income taxes paid by the vape shops, they go away too.

The General Election campaign is now underway with half of the state senate and the entire state house on the ballot.  This is an excellent time for voters to demand their elected officials stop imposing job killing taxation on businesses and call upon them to reign in the power of regulatory agencies.  Unless a stand is taken at the ballot box Pennsylvania has no hope of shedding its well-deserved reputation as an unfriendly place to do business.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on American Radio Journal : Impact of Third Party Candidates


Radio Program Schedule for the week of September 3, 2016- September 9, 2016

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry has a Newsmaker interview with Brian Blase of George Mason University about Aetna leaving the PA health care exchange
  • Joe Geiger from the First Nonprofit Foundation has Emily Landis from the Lancaster Science Factory in the Community Benefit Spotlight
  • Beth Anne Mumford of Americans for Prosperity-PA has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on the Grassroots Leadership Academy

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Keith Naughton columnist for the Daily Caller about the impact of third party candidates on presidential elections
  • Doug Sachtleben of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the federal budget
  • Eric Boehm gets details on the prospects for high speed rail from Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation; and, Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on no profile on courage

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Back to Charter School


Radio Program Schedule for the week of August 27, 2016 – September 2, 2016

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from PAWatchdog.org
  •  David Taylor from the PA Manufacturers Association and James Paul of the Commonwealth Foundation have a Capitol Watch look at the importance of charter schools
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on the eye of the budget storm

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Patrick Hedger of the Charles Koch Institute about extending tax breaks to special interests
  • Doug Sachtleben of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the Arizona and Florida primaries
  • Eric Boehm talks with Sam Gedge of the Institute for Justice about free speech rights under assault in Colorado
  • Dr. Paul Kengor from the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College has an American Radio Journal commentary on the persistence of socialists

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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