In the comments to my previous post on the Toll Road, someone asked whether HB 1108 provided for the privatization of all of Indiana’s transportation infrastructure and not just the toll roads.
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.
As I posted on an earlier entry, thatâ€™s my read as well. Iâ€™ve been hammering away over the past week on my talk show in Bloomington, Indiana on the SCOPE of HB1008 and people are shocked and surprised of the possibilities. Yet few are writing about the story, instead focusing only on the Toll Road and I69 components.
I thought I may be missing something â€” Iâ€™m glad to see someone else who reads the bill the same way.
Everyone should eye HB1008 with skepticism — while there are tangible, immediate ramifications for building Indiana infrastruture, the broader consolidation of power within the State Executive is dramatic and frightening. Sole discretion over the sale of transportation assets, OUR ASSETS, within the Governor’s office is an unacceptable trade off.
There may be limits in federal law on some sales, particularly relating to Interstate Highways constructed with federal funds (the toll road, though an “interstate”, predates the Interstate system).
What isn’t precluded, yet is included in the language of the bill, are ports, airports (Gary?), railroads (South Shore?), and future projects. All on the table….