SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called on lawmakers on Wednesday to pass legislation to allow the private sector to have a bigger role in building, operating and maintaining the state’s public works.
The Republican governor, who has often spoken in favor of public-private partnerships to improve and expand state infrastructure, urged the state’s Democrat-led legislature to approve bills that would expand the types of projects, services and government entities that could enter into such tie-ups.
Schwarzenegger and top lawmakers rallied voters last year to support ballot measures authorizing more than $40 billion in general obligation debt to finance various public works projects. But he has maintained those funds represent a fraction of the investment the country’s most populous state must make in its infrastructure.
The term of art for these projects is public-private partnerships or Performance-Based Infrastructure (wonder who focus grouped that one). As Schwarzenegger’s news release states, he’s asking the Legislature to statutorily:
Expand the types of projects, services and government entities that can enter into PBI arrangements. Increase contracting flexibility so the state can better negotiate with potential contractors. Establish “PBI California,” a center for excellence to help determine which projects can benefit from PBI, represent the state in negotiations with PBI participants, ensure transparency and monitor performance.
Given the vast needs for infrastructure maintenance and expansion in California, Schwarzenegger is showing some real leadership (and appreciation for private-sector efficiencies) in offering new and not immediately universally popular financing proposals. Or so it seems at first glance…
The NAM’s policy statement on transportation issues is here.
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