CHICAGO — Ohio Gov. John Kasich reportedly expects to unveil a privatization plan for the Ohio Turnpike within the next 30 days.
Kasich has talked about privatizing the 241-mile turnpike, one of Ohio's most lucrative assets, since taking office, saying it could generate up to $2.4 billion. It's one of several proposed public-private partnership plans aimed at raising cash for the Buckeye State.
Kasich told local reporters Thursday that he is considering several options for the turnpike that would generate at least $1 billion. The governor said he plans to announce a formal proposal within the next 30 days, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
"The bottom line is there may be some real money lying out there if we do this thing the right way," he was quoted as saying. "And everybody needs to stay cool."
That apparently refers to political opposition to leasing the turnpike.
KPMG LLP is advising the administration on the deal.
He said the cash would be given to the state over a period of time instead of in one lump sum, and that it would likely be used to cover infrastructure needs, the report said. Options include a long-term lease or securitizing - and bonding against - future toll revenue.
The toll road is rated double-A, one of the highest-rated toll roads in the country, and issues bonds through the Ohio Turnpike Commission. It has roughly $600 million of outstanding bonds, which would likely need to be defeased in a privatization deal.
Kasich's announcement comes a week after the Ohio Supreme Court dealt a blow to his plan to advance a long-stalled plan to privatize its liquor distribution system as part of a $1.5 billion plan.
The top court last week announced it would not take up the state's lawsuit, sending it back to the lower courts.
The legal process delays a plan for the newly created non-profit entity JobsOhio to sell $1.4 billion of bonds to take over the liquor distribution system. The proposal had called for $500 million of the proceeds to be used to plug a deficit in the 2013 budget, but the state has already closed the hole with other means.
JPMorgan and Citi are the joint book runners on the deal and Morgan Stanley and Bank of America - Merrill Lynch are co-seniors.
Ohio in late August launched its first P3 project, a $332 million bridge in downtown Cleveland. The state is also eying P3s for a $3 billion rebuild of the aging Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, a $700 million bypass in southern Ohio and the sale or lease of its non-interstate rest stops.