Maryland Lawmakers Consider Public-Private Partnerships

By Brownfield, Andy | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, March 29, 2013 | Go to article overview

Maryland Lawmakers Consider Public-Private Partnerships


Brownfield, Andy, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


ANNAPOLIS -- A Maryland Senate panel moved forward with a measure to allow public-private partnerships, which give private companies power over roads, schools and public transit in exchange for less upfront taxpayer investment.

The measure specifies when and how private companies could partner with the state on big construction projects without going through the usual procurement process.

The bill has overwhelmingly passed the House. It's a priority of Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has had Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown spearhead the measure through the House and Senate.

Unlike typical projects for which the state contracts with a private company to build the project using taxpayer money, in a public-private partnership the private business undertakes much of the cost itself and is repaid through fees on users of the finished product, such as highway tolls. That can mean higher costs for drivers, as private companies typically charge higher tolls than states.

However, the projects would still involve millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and opponents worry that circumventing the typical procurement process would result in a shadowy process without as much oversight over how Marylanders' tax dollars are spent.

Maryland Secretary of State John McDonough assured members of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee that the bill had been changed to allow more oversight from lawmakers and require stricter reporting. …

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