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Public-Private Partnership Bill Advances

A bill on its way to the floor of the Indiana House would shift authority to approve public-private partnership, or P3, projects from the state legislature to the governor.

P3 projects allow private investors to take on the debt risk in a project, instead of the state. Since 2006, the state legislature has had the authority to approve those projects. But Fort Wayne Senator Tom Wyss, who authored the bill, said legislative approval can take too long.

“We had a perfect example of that with the Illiana expressway,” he said, “which is the route that’s going to be up in Northwest Indiana. And on that project, it took three years of General Assembly dealing with it before we got approval to do so.”

P3 agreements could include switching an existing highway to a toll road, but Wyss said that’s nearly impossible because the U.S. Secretary of Transportation would also have to approve that, and likely would not.

But Indianapolis Representative Ed DeLaney disagrees.

“I’m just real happy,” he said, “to know that the Indiana Republican Party wants to rely upon Washington to make decisions about our roads, our tolls and our public. This, to me, is a stunning idea for them to take that position.”

The Senate version of the bill included a four-year waiting period before the authority changed hands from the General Assembly to the governor. The House language removes that waiting period.

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