Last week the National Governors Association strongly urged key Senators to stand with them against new restrictions on public private partnerships and tolling in the House T&I Committee’s draft surface transportation bill. In their letter to chairs and ranking members of the Senate Environment and Public Works, Finance, and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, the NGA highlighted the efforts of state and local governments to pursue innovative financing options to complement traditional sources, and asked the Senate to omit the proposals from the Senate’s reauthorization bill.
The proposed restrictions would be in addition to the measures already included in State P3 authorizing statutes, which commonly include strict oversight of performance standards, toll policies, labor protections, revenue sharing, risk allocation, use of toll proceeds, transparency, public participation, length of concession, and bidding procedures, as detailed in FHWA’s recent report: Public Policy Considerations in Public-Private Partnership Arrangements.
If enacted, the new law would (i) repeal current law that enables states to toll and place new limits on tolled facilities (§1301); (ii) impose new requirements and mandate certain public-private partnership contract provisions (§1504 ); and (iii) create a new federal office to review and approve all toll rate schedules and public-private partnership agreements (§§1204 - 1205).
These changes would have far-reaching consequences, chill private investment in infrastructure projects, and increase costs associated with oversight and litigation risk for those projects already in the pipeline. NGA opposes these changes, and wants state and local governments to retain the flexibility to determine the appropriate level of private sector participation in their surface transportation programs.
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