The Associated Press has an article on a study on the Toll Road deal by a government studies professor out of William & Mary.
“These transactions have important consequences for intergenerational justice because they enrich current citizens and governments at the expense of future citizens and governments by transferring future revenue to current budgets,” Gilmour states in his report.
. . .
“It is easy to see why current politicians view asset leases with up-front payments as wonderful, allowing them to spend today without raising taxes or appearing to incur debt,” Gilmour said. “In short, the ITR lease is a great deal for current residents of Indiana, but it offers little to those who will live in Indiana in future decades.”
Presumably this means that people who are now criticizing the national debt because “won’t somebody please think of the children,” were also against selling off the toll road, but that’s not quite how I remember it going down.
Whether the toll road sale was a good deal or not pretty much hinges on whether there would have been political will to raise tolls. Historically there had not been. My sense at the time was that the sale was a solution in lieu of developing that will. Aaron Renn has said that the numbers on the deal were favorable to Indiana. I trust his judgment on such things better than my own or Professor Gilmour’s.
Still, I’m philosophically against selling off public infrastructure. The way I saw it at the time:
I’m against selling off Indiana’s infrastructure. It’s just not a good idea to eat your seed corn. Mitch Daniels reminds me of one of those kids who gets set up with an annuity through a lawsuit from when they were a minor. They see an ad on daytime television from a company that will pay a lump sum purchase on the annuity. The kid is being ripped off, the company’s only paying 50% of what the annuity is worth, but he doesn’t care, he just wants a pocket full of money right now so he can buy that bitchin’ Camaro he’s had his eye on.
Another thing that caught my eye was that the AP story quotes Troy “I’ll never vote for DST” Woodruff as the INDOT chief of staff. As you might recall, Indiana owes the implementation of Daylight Saving Time to him. It passed by one vote – that vote was his; after he said he wouldn’t vote for it. It would be uncharitable of me to suspect he got taken care of after he got his arm twisted and lost his seat.