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.

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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.”

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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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