John Evans Reports………03-18-2011

Representative John Evans

Bill Moves Forward to Partner Public, Private Entities for Infrastructure Projects
By Rep. John Evans (R-Erie/Crawford)

Legislation that will seek to help our state’s growing infrastructure needs has endorsed by a key committee in the House.

House Bill 3, which would enable Pennsylvania to enter into transportation-specific public-private partnerships, passed the House Transportation Committee on March 3.

As a former member of the House Transportation Committee, I believe that these partnerships, also called P3s, are an innovative way to finance public works projects. P3s leverage private money and resources to pay for public projects, namely those in transportation. Specifically, these collaborative efforts team private industry with government in the operation, maintenance and/or construction of a transportation asset. Common examples include roads, bridges, transit systems, railroads and airports.

We know that our infrastructure needs cannot be met under conventional financing. We need to look outside the box, and P3s provide the innovation that can benefit Pennsylvania now and in the future.

According to a 2010 report issued by the State Transportation Advisory Committee, an additional $3.5 billion a year is needed in order to meet existing and immediate transportation infrastructure needs in the Commonwealth.

Under a public-private partnership, a contract would be jointly agreed upon in which all the operational and capital plans are worked out for the life of the agreement. In most cases, the private entity is permitted to charge user fees (i.e., tolls, in the case of highways) in exchange for either building or paying the public entity for the asset. P3s can lead to new ideas, new money, increased public support and faster delivery of transportation projects, without using taxpayer funds.

The best part about public-private partnerships is that the public sector can develop contracts with the private industry building or improving these roads that can address virtually everything that could arise during the construction phase or the life of the highway. This helps keep control in the government’s hands while using private resources as efficiently as possible.

Both the House Transportation Committee and the House Republican Policy Committee have held hearings on P3s during the past few sessions, and we believe that more than ever, now is the time to see this legislation advance through both chambers and onto the governor’s desk.

Currently, 28 states and Puerto Rico have enacted laws authorizing the implementation of public-private partnerships. P3s are endorsed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and both the previous administration of Gov. Ed Rendell and current administration of Gov. Tom Corbett have publicly expressed support of P3s.

House Bill 3 now heads to the full House for consideration.

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John Evans Reports is a weekly editorial from Rep. John Evans, 5th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and published by EdinboroOnline.com in an effort to keep the citizens of the area informed on matters of importance to them. Rep. Evans can be reached for further comment or input at his Edinboro Pa office 814-734-2793, Girard, Pa office 814-774-2892, or his Linesville, PA office 814-683-5550. www.repevans.com

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