NCSL Releases PPP Toolkit for State Legislators

Dec 13, 2010

by Murphie Barrett

As state lawmakers have struggled to close a cumulative budget gap of $83.9 billion while crafting their FY 2011 budgets, some states have turned to partnerships with private entities to meet their growing transportation infrastructure needs.  Public-private partnerships (PPPs or P3s) are agreements that allow private companies to take on traditionally public roles in infrastructure projects, while keeping the public sector ultimately accountable for a project and the overall service to the public. In PPPs, a government agency typically contracts with a private company to renovate, build, operate, maintain, manage or finance a facility.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce serves on the steering committee for the National Conference of State Legislator (NCSL) Foundation Partners Project on PPPs for Transportation. NCSL formed this working group of state legislators, legislative staff and representatives of private sector entities in 2008 to assemble reliable information and to identify effective tools for considering PPPs in the context of overall transportation funding decisions. 

This week, the Partners Project on PPPs for Transportation released Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation: A Toolkit for Legislators, which provides expert guidance, dependable counsel and a compilation of best practices to assist state legislatures as they consider whether and how to pursue PPPs in their states. The centerpiece of the toolkit is nine principles that promote a sound public policy approach to the consideration of PPPs. Clear explanations of PPP approaches, benefits and controversies, and roles and responsibilities also are provided. As well, the appendices have a wealth of specific state legislative information and detailed instruction on PPP issues.

"This toolkit is an excellent resource for states about to embark on a PPP program, as well as those states that already are building a P3 program," said Representative Rick Geist of Pennsylvania. "I consider it required reading for legislators and policymakers who want to do it right."

One of the goals of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Let's Rebuild America initiative is to increase public and private investment levels. There is more than $180 billion in private capital waiting to be invested in infrastructure. The toolkit is a concrete step forward in fostering substantive dialogues about the use PPPs by states to help address their infrastructure needs. The Chamber will promote the toolkit to its members as part of its comprehensive effort to address the nation's transportation infrastructure challenges.

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