My review of the bill has been brief, but that seems to be essentially what SECTION 33 of the introduced bill provides for. It creates a new Article to the Indiana Code at IC 8-15.7 entitled “Public-Private Partnerships”. It allows for the State to enter into 99 year contracts with private entities to operate tollways, intermodal facilities, roads, airports, transit facilities, “other transportation facilities and infrastructure.” In addition, the term “project” means all or part of a bridge, tunnel, overpass, underpass, intercahange, structure, ramp, access road, service road, entrance plaza, approach, tollhouse, utility corridor, toll gantry, rest stop, service area, or administration, storage or other building or facility related to the transportation facilities and infrastructure.
The process appars to be something like this: The Indiana Finance Authority makes a request for proposals. (The authority is made up of the following members: the budget director who is appointed by the Governor, the State Treasurer, and 3 members appointed by the Governor, 1 of whom must be from a different political party.) If it likes one of the proposals it recommends the proposal to the governor and the budget committee. (The Budget Committee consists of two Republicans and two Democrats appointed by the party leaders of each chamber of each house. It also consists of the Budget Director appointed by the Governor.) Apparently the budget committee is responsible for reviewing the Finance Authority’s recommendation but has no power to accept or reject. Instead, accepting or rejecting the recommendation appears to be entirely in the Governor’s discretion.
So, the Finance Authority — a majority of whom can be from the same political party as the Governor and appointed by the Governor — makes recommendations to the Governor and the Budget Committee about projects that can privatize essentially any state owned transportation infrastructure for up to 99 years at a time. The budget committee can give its 2 cents but can’t do anything to affect the process. The Governor can then accept or reject the project.
Wow. That’s pretty breathtaking in its scope. Thanks to those who got on me to sift through this legislation. A determined Governor with loyal appointees could mortgage almost all of the state’s transportation infrastructure for generations to come in a very short time, and the legislature couldn’t do a thing about it.