Despite Gov. Rendell's hope to have a private consortium running the Pennsylvania Turnpike by the fall, many in Harrisburg say that's wishful thinking.
Given everything else on the plate of the General Assembly - from a smoking ban, to an economic stimulus package, to the annual state budget - the $12.8 billion turnpike offering, which requires legislative approval, likely will not come to a vote for some time, if ever.
The winning turnpike bid was met yesterday with mixed reaction in Harrisburg, with some legislative leaders calling it skimpy while others described it as record-setting.
In announcing the bid, the Democratic governor finds himself in an unusual political situation: For the most part, Democrats in the House and Senate oppose the idea, while Republicans appear more willing to consider it.
Asked if he believed the bid was large enough to convince lawmakers to support it, House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Joseph F. Markosek (D., Allegheny) said, "Not even close."
"It doesn't appear to be the premium that the Commonwealth should demand to give up the control of one of its most valuable assets," said Markosek.
Rep. Richard A. Geist, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, called the bid "a huge number" and said "it makes really good business sense."
To sell the bid, Rendell has a tough road ahead in a 253-member legislature that has been historically averse to privatizing state-related assets.
To be successful, Geist (R., Blair) said Rendell must trumpet the virtues of the bid to the state as a whole, but, in order to make it hit home, he will need to make commitments for individual road and bridge improvements in each lawmaker's district.
Some top lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), said Rendell's math appears overly optimistic.
The governor said yesterday that the state would reap $1.1 billion each year as a result of the lease - a figure based on a 12 percent rate of return.
"I don't know of any other set of financial projections that has that sort of performance," Pileggi said.