P3 legislation moving through General AssemblyJason Scott
When the state Senate returns April 30, it will have before it a bill that might begin to tackle one of the biggest priorities of this legislative session: transportation funding.
The House last week by a 128-66 vote passed House Bill 3, a proposal that would enable the use of public-private partnerships, also known as P3s, for funding of transportation and infrastructure projects.
An additional $3.5 billion a year is needed to fully meet immediate needs, according to a 2010 study by the State Transportation Advisory Committee. Pennsylvania has the most structurally deficient bridges of any state in the nation — more than 5,000, or 26 percent of the state-owned inventory — and roughly 8,000 miles of roadway in very poor condition, according to the committee.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have offered possible solutions to address the funding shortfall. Many of the proposals have paralleled recommendations from the governor's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission.
In August, the commission drew up proposals that would add about $2.5 billion for infrastructure over a five-year period. The commission's plan included uncapping the gas and oil company franchise tax, increasing fees, moving the state police budget over to the general fund and modernization programs at the state Department of Transportation.
Enacting P3 legislation also was one of the commission's recommendations. Under a P3, the public entity maintains ownership of the asset but contracts with a private entity to develop, construct, manage, operate and/or finance a given project.
The Senate passed its own version of the P3 legislation last year. That bill remains in the House Transportation Committee.