Members of the Ohio Congressional Delegation Express Concern as ODOT Names Turnpike Advisory Team

WASHINGTON – Recently, the State of Ohio announced the selection of KPMG for a federally subsidized state contract to study changes to the Ohio Turnpike including privatization. KPMG LLP, the US member firm of the Switzerland-based KPMG International, is part of a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax, and outsourcing services. In response to the announcement, several members of the Ohio Congressional Delegation expressed concern over the State’s potential plans for the Turnpike.

“Ohioans depend on the turnpike to maintain commerce and essential manufacturing and agriculture jobs,” Rep. Marcia Fudge noted. “They own it and should reap the benefits. As our economy begins to grow stronger, creating obstacles to economic growth is the wrong thing to do. We should stay focused on keeping the turnpike in the hands of the people of Ohio.”

“It’s alarming that the Ohio Department of Transportation continues to use federal funds to promote the privatization of the Ohio Turnpike.” Rep. Ryan said. “Efforts to privatize the Turnpike threaten the job security of more than 1,000 Ohioans and the quality of this asset owned by the people of Ohio. I am especially troubled by the Administration’s choice of a company that specializes in outsourcing instead of spurring economic growth here at home. Instead of eliminating jobs, we should be focused on policies that create jobs.”

KPMG serves as a member of the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) and recently was honored with a 2011 selection as one of the “World’s Best Outsourcing Advisors.” In fact, KPMG has established a presence in over 150 countries, including 13 offices in China. The company’s expansive presence overseas positions them as a leader in outsourcing and government privatization efforts. KPMG’s selection to advise the State of Ohio regarding the future of the Turnpike raises serious questions regarding the State’s intended goals.”

“Ohioans should be very concerned that ODOT has put a leading job outsourcer in the driver’s seat over the fate of the Ohio Turnpike,” Rep. Marcy Kaptur said. “In its mad dash to cash out the Ohio Turnpike, ODOT continues to ignore public bodies across northern Ohio who oppose this ‘get rich quick’ scheme that jeopardizes jobs and commerce in Ohio.”

“Signs point to this study being little more than political cover for moving forward with a shortsighted, pound-foolish privatization scheme,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich. “Once again, the State Administration is attacking workers under the guise of fiscal responsibility. The men and women who work on the Ohio Turnpike have competitive wages and benefits as the result of their efforts to organize. This privatization attempt is a malicious attack meant to break the backs of organized labor in Ohio.”

While the State of Ohio has stated its intention to use this study to determine the best economic use of the Turnpike, the Administration has repeatedly praised the Indiana Turnpike lease. In 2006, Indiana leased the Indiana Turnpike to a foreign-held company. Since that lease, tolls on the Indiana Turnpike have nearly doubled.

“Our officials in Columbus should not be using our hard-earned tax dollars to hire foreign corporations that will put hundreds of Ohioans out of work and whittle away state assets,” Rep. Betty Sutton said. “We should be focusing on strengthening the middle-class and creating new jobs in our state, not finding new ways to squeeze working Ohioans while profiting big multi-national corporations.”

KPMG has until July 1, 2012 to make recommendations to the State on privatization and other options.