SENATOR GREG BALL ON TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE TOLL: OVER $14 IS TOO HIGH
Senator Ball and Assemblyman Schimminger Partner on Bipartisan P3 Legislation
Albany, N.Y. – (10/01/2013) – On Friday, New York State learned the federal government’s loan for the Tappan Zee Bridge will be much less than originally anticipated. The federal government will only cover 33 percent of the cost and not the 49 percent that was requested a year ago. This shortfall means that the $14 toll predicted for the new bridge could actually be far higher. Senator Greg Ball (R,C,I – Patterson) and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-C-I – Kenmore) have now announced a bipartisan and comprehensive public-private partnership bill that could be used to fund the bridge and other state infrastructure projects.
The legislation, S5501, enables New York State to be on the forefront of public-private partnerships, by authorizing private entities to design, build, finance, operate and maintain public infrastructure assets including the Tappan Zee Bridge.
“I am excited to team up with Assemblyman Schimminger to introduce this comprehensive public-private partnership legislation. With the recent news of the federal government loan coming up short, now is the time to implement innovative public-private partnership legislation. Over $14 is too high, simply raising the toll is not a sustainable solution. We can’t continue to pass the tab onto those that cross the bridge and the tax payers. New York is the capitol of capital and we must unlock the private sector to fund and maintain this vital infrastructure project,” said Senator Greg Ball. “We live in a powerful state that is home to the greatest financial market in the world. The search for federal debt based funds and our inability to finance the Tappan Zee Bridge is symptomatic of a previous lack of both creative thinking and innovative finance models. It’s time to change all of that by supplying the Governor with these new helpful tools and this legislation would do just that.”
Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry said he looks forward to working with Senator Ball on the legislation.
“This forward-thinking legislation creates a framework that will allow for and encourage investment in the state by private companies in order to advance the development and operation of public infrastructure,” said Schimminger. “In this period of fiscal stress and constrained funding for ever increasing infrastructure needs, New York should be joining other state governments in advancing alternatives to traditional methods of creating or enhancing infrastructure assets and improving the services delivered through them. This would be extremely helpful to efforts aimed at boosting Upstate New York’s economy.”
Senator Ball hosted his first forum focused on the benefits of public-private partnerships in August of 2012. Hundreds gathered to brainstorm the best way to legislatively enable public-private partnerships in New York State. According to the four experts that testified these types of partnerships in New York will spur economic development and allow funding for government facilities and infrastructure projects while easing the tax burden on residents.
Ball then hosted two follow-up forums, one in September focused specially on the Tappan Zee Bridge and the next in October, for stakeholders including labor, business and government leaders to provide feedback on the proposed legislation.
This year, Senator Ball met with Texas Legislators, to discuss their success in enacting P3 legislation and to obtain feedback on S5501.
Assemblyman Schimminger has had discussions with The American Institute of Architects on the legislation.
“Hosting several open forums with P3 experts and traveling to states that have already enacted P3 legislation, has allowed our staff and P3 committee to draft this comprehensive bill. I believe this legislation, if passed, will spur economic development and put New York State back at the front of the pack. Both Assemblyman Schimminger and I are eager to work with our colleagues in the Senate and Assembly to ensure this bill is a collaboration of any and all member’s efforts or contributions in this area. In addition, we look forward to siting with Governor Cuomo to finalize a truly transformational piece of legislation in the coming weeks and months,” added Senator Ball.
This public-private partnership legislation will help transfer the risks associated with building, financing, operating and maintaining public infrastructure projects from the taxpayers to the private sector. One of the key benefits is that private partners are responsible for project cost overruns eliminating the government’s risk going back to taxpayers for additional funds. In addition, because the risk of completion is shifted to the private sector, projects will get done faster, more efficiently and more robustly because the private sector will be responsible for the maintenance costs as well.
This legislation also creates a synergy between public authorities and private sector companies that will help to ensure that New York State has access to the knowledge, skills and expertise of the best and brightest from the private and public sector.
“Currently, New York is the only State in the U.S. with a substantial population that has not enacted P3 enabling legislation, which based on its crumbling infrastructure; it should have been the first. According to a report by the Citizens Budget Commission, there are 17,000 bridges in New York State, and 6,650 are deemed functionally obsolete or structurally deficient and there is a $5 billion backlog for maintenance and renovations to New York’s public universities,” said Matt Neuringer, Chairman of Senator Ball’s Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council. “Senator Ball’s legislation will shift the burden from taxpayers to the private sector, creating a symbiotic relationship that reduces tax burdens and provides uncorrelated yield to the private sector.”
“I am proud that the Business Council of Westchester has been able to work so closely with Senator Ball to draft this landmark legislation,” said Mr. John Ravitz, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Business Council of Westchester. “We support the concept of public-private partnerships and we believe this innovative partnership will spur economic development in Westchester County and throughout New York State.”
“Public-Private Partnerships are vital in today’s economy to ensure that all stakeholders come to the table to effect positive change at the local and regional level,” says Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman of the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce. “Public-Private Partnerships are a key component in community development, which in turn leads to larger scale economic development.”
“Public-Private Partnerships, a staple of the ‘Let NY Work’ agenda, provide real cost savings to construction projects by allowing design-build and other private sector innovative project delivery systems,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a regional business advocacy organization and co-founder of Unshackle Upstate. “Mandate relief continues to be one of the top priorities Albany must address this upcoming legislative session, and P3’s are a great start in significant cost reductions for important construction projects that are essential to moving our state forward.”
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