P3 prospects good after state House gives approval

Kentucky_state_capitol_buildingThe state House approved legislation on Wednesday that would allow public-private-partnerships (P3) in Kentucky on transportation projects. The bill passed after amendments prohibiting tolling on the $2.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge project in northern Kentucky — which derailed the bill last year — were defeated.

Proponents of HB 443 say allowing P3s for transportation projects would help the state advance infrastructure projects as federal transportation funding dries up, leading to increased budget savings and efficiencies. Kentucky is the only state among those it borders that doesn’t allow P3s for such use, though the funding arrangements have been used for the state’s Medicaid managed care program and, most recently, in an agreement to expand high-speed broadband access.

Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington, introduced 16 floor amendments to the bill. Those seeking to limit the use of tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge were defeated after HB 443 supporters — including Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, who is Jack Conway’s running mate for governor this year — warned that it would lead to a veto by Gov. Steve Beshear, just like last year.

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, warned that the legislation was not ready for approval, saying it needed more provisions for public input and transparency on P3 projects. He also said the state should be wary about the philosophical and policy precedent it was setting with such partnerships between the state and private companies.

“(The state’s) motive for existing is the common good,” said Wayne. “But when you marry a representative democracy with a corporation, it’s not a marriage that has necessarily a common goal, because a corporation has an entirely different motive for existing, and that is profit. It wants to make money. So we have to be very, very cautious in blessing this marriage.”

Northern Kentucky legislators were also cautious because other P3 transportation projects around the country that have gone bankrupt, such as the Indiana Toll Road. The Brent Spence Bridge project would be the largest P3 undertaken by a state government.

Despite northern Kentucky legislators voting against HB 443, it advanced with a comfortable 84-13 vote. The legislation is expected to move quickly through the state Senate, and Beshear has indicated he would sign it in its current form.

Roger A. Baylor takes leave of absence from NABC to run for mayor of New Albany

Roger A. Baylor

Roger A. Baylor

Roger A. Baylor is a man of many ideologies, opinions and beliefs. Spend any time with him at the New Albanian Brewing Co. or Bank Street Brewhouse, and you may find yourself talking about high-gravity beers, urban planning, safe streets, the last Hungarian Puszta farmers and, now, the politics of New Albany. Baylor has announced he’ll be taking a leave of absence from NABC — which he co-owns with business partners Kate Lewison and Amy Baylor — to run for mayor of the Southern Indiana town.

“I’m running for mayor because a city in transition like New Albany desperately needs progressive ideas like those espoused by people like me, from all walks of life, who routinely have been marginalized or ignored by the same old game, played the same old way, by the same old, tired political suspects,” he said in a news release and on his blog.

Baylor will begin his campaign as an independent on March 2 and said he’s completed all the necessary paperwork to be on the ballot in November. Baylor owns 33 percent of NABC’s two incorporations and he said if he is elected mayor, he’ll sell his shares to his business partners, according to the terms of their agreement.