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Pa. Auditor Jack Wagner Says Turnpike Commission Is Headed For Financial Wreck

By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) - The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is disputing the auditor general's warning that the agency is being crushed by debt because of its obligations to provide funding for statewide transportation needs.

Under legislation passed in 2007, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is borrowing money to meet its obligation to provide $450 million dollars to PennDOT each year. The net result, says Auditor General Jack Wagner, is that since the legislation became law, the turnpike's long-term debt has increased from $2.6 billion to $7.3 billion.

"There is something financially seriously wrong with the turnpike," Wagner says. "They are headed for a financial wreck."

Not so, says Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission spokesman Carl DeFebo. He says as things stand now, the turnpike is able to manage its obligations under the law.

"There may be a time where that debt cannot be sustained. But we don't know that for sure."

DeFebo says the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has a "sound" approach to meet its obligations.

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