John Baer

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Is it really necessary to charge tolls on the I-83 South Bridge?

Let’s face it: Pennsylvania’s government has a lot of policy turkeys, especially when it comes to issues that affect people’s daily lives.

I don’t mean any disrespect to real turkeys because they’re delicious.

I’m referring to different meanings of the term, such as something that fails miserably.

The proposal to toll the I-83 South Bridge, which connects Harrisburg and the West Shore, appears to be riddled with wattle and gobble, as many state plans do.

To put it another way, it’s a turkey.

It can join the flock (or rafter, another term for a group of turkeys) of policies pushed by the “leaders” of a state I’ve long dubbed “The Land of Low Expectations,” and it should be on our license plates.

Consider our overall quality of life, which is ranked 40th nationally by US News and World Report, and the lowest among the northeastern states.

Our future, right? According to the head of our state system of public universities, Pennsylvania ranks 48th nationally in terms of higher education support.

Economic equity? The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy consistently ranks us among the top ten states with the most regressive tax structures, in which lower-income people pay a higher percentage of their income than higher-income people.

Oh, and what about tolling interstate bridges to help pay for decades of neglect by the same people who have pushed us to the bottom of the heap in so many ways?

Our highway system is ranked 39th in the nation, and our bridges are ranked 46th, according to the Reason Foundation, a free-market think tank.

In a ranking of the best and worst states to drive in, the financial website Wallet Hub ranks us 44th.

What does this tell you? Those in charge have a habit of ignoring obvious needs year after year.

Then demand that you compensate them for their blunder.

Yes, bridges must be repaired or replaced.

We require a large number of items.

Tolls, on the other hand

In a nutshell, the state plan is to replace the South Bridge in stages starting in 2025, at a cost of (dollar)600 million (which is likely to be higher).

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