House GOP Committee Examines Public-Private Partnerships at Grove City Hearing, Stevenson Says

Pennsylvania can take advantage of innovative collaborations and save taxpayer money by teaming up with private industry through  public-private partnerships (P3s), members of the House Republican Policy Committee learned during a public hearing at Grove City College in Mercer County on Tuesday, said Rep. Dick Stevenson (R-Mercer/Butler), who hosted the hearing. 

“Public-private partnerships are working successfully in other states that have many of the same funding challenges Pennsylvania faces,” said Stevenson, who co-chairs the House Republican Policy Committee’s Infrastructure Task Force. “Not only can P3s be applied to road and bridge infrastructure, but they can be used for water and wastewater projects, parks systems, prisons and public transit. Our hearing focused on these applications and how such teamwork can benefit the public.” 

“The House Republican Policy Committee and our Infrastructure Task Force have been examining the merits of public-private partnerships that can be applied to a wide array of public projects,” said Policy Committee Chairman Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York). “From water and wastewater infrastructure to corrections systems and recreation to public transit, leveraging private industry for public benefit is a commonsense way to address many of the funding challenges each of these sectors face while maintaining or improving quality.” 

Stevenson noted that P3s are different than privatization because public assets are not sold to a private entity. Instead, contracts are commercial leases with very detailed guidelines and regulations set by both sides.  

The goal is for private industry to more effectively manage and invest in the entity, whether it be a public park or water system, and to provide the best possible value to the taxpayer. Some leases can be for short-term building projects or for long-term management and operations. 

Those testifying at Tuesday’s hearing included several private companies that have had success with P3s in other states and local governments. The presenters, who offered details of numerous P3 projects, were: 

Warren Meyer, president of Recreation Resource Management, which is involved in whole park management from parks and campgrounds to complete wilderness areas and historic buildings. This type of P3 can take parks out of the budget tug of war.  

Charles Johnston, senior manager of business development for American Water. The company has worked with local communities in Clarion and Monroe counties, as well as in other states, to facilitate system improvements. The company also has participated in a wide range of P3 options, from operations assistance to leasing, developing and operating a water or wastewater system. 

Dick Alexander, senior vice president, Veolia Transportation, which operates commuter rail, light rail, trolleys, subways, paratransit services, taxis, shared ride vans and bus transit for more than 5,000 transit authorities in 28 countries. A P3 for public transit can reduce risk and cost to the public authority and taxpayer and provides a barometer on costs, services quality and safety. 

Tony Grande, executive vice president and chief development officer, and Brad Regens, vice president, Partnership Relations, Corrections Corporation of America, which is the fourth-largest corrections system in the United States and the largest private system. Nearly half of all states and numerous county governments contract with CCA and the company has been able to provide the same or better correctional services at a lower cost. 

All of those who testified agreed that for P3s to be successful, private industry must be accountable, innovative and quality-focused. P3s are designed to be flexible to meet the particular needs of a community and the asset.  

“Even as state budgets are getting tighter, the demand for infrastructure improvements still increases,” Stevenson said. “Everyone is competing for the same dollar, and public-private partnerships offer an innovative alternative that can provide a greater value for the taxpayer and user.” 

Tuesday’s hearing was the third held to discuss P3s. The first, held in Harrisburg, defined public-private partnerships. The second, held in January in Delaware County, examined the use of P3s for road and bridge infrastructure. P3s are expected to be an integral focus of a soon-to-be-called special legislative session on transportation funding, now that tolling for Interstate 80 has been denied by the federal government. 

Rep. Dick Stevenson
8th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(724) 458-4911
(717) 783-6438
Contact: Jennifer Algoe Keaton
(717) 705-2094
Member site:
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