Citizens Taking Action for transit dependent riders
August 22, 2011
Citizens Groups Seek Veto of Public-Private Partnership Legislation
Members of Privatization Watch: Illinois meet with
State Legislators and Governor's Staff Over PPPs
Representatives of several civic organizations who have formed Privatization Watch: Illinois (PWI), met on Monday with state officials seeking a veto by Governor Quinn of a law (HB 1091, SB 146) enabling public-private partnerships (PPP) for transportation projects. The legislation covers all aspects of transportation statewide, with the exception of airports. PWI is concerned and fearful that such a process would lead to corruption in the administration of contracts, turn over control of the infrastructure to private companies, possibly even from overseas, and result in costs exceeding more traditional ways of making public improvements.
PPPs they fear might result in the private sector ownership of streets and highways, as well as the operation of any high speed rail, and perhaps even public transit. PWI is attempting to prevent another parking meter give away, and cited numerous examples of PPPs tried elsewhere which not only did not work, but ended up bankrupting cities, and even entire countries. Since the state is fiscally solvent, given the recent tax increase, there is no need for any PPPs.
State officials defended the legislation by saying that it pertains only to new construction projects, and not any existing infrastructure which the state already owns. PWI countered this with the example of the first railroad in Illinois in the 1800’s, a PPP, which ended up costing millions, although nothing was ever built. It was agreed that PWI would submit their recommended revisions to the legislation in September.
Lora Chamberlain, an organizer of PWI, said: “If you only have the private sector in control and benefiting, then greed, lack of safety, and decreased services are going to be a forgone conclusion, basically the three ways that the private entity would be able to make the most money over the long run. In PPPs there is an incentive for the private partner to take the federal and state money upfront, do as shabby a job on the construction as possible, just enough to fulfill their contract, make back their investment, and then self destruct, shedding their risk.”