On Feb. 24, the GBC offered testimony supporting HB 576, an administration bill that would establish the state policy on the use of public-private partnerships (P3s), and authorize specified state agencies to enter into P3s. The bill creates a process and establishes associated reporting requirements for state agencies along with instituting state legislative and executive branch oversight authority.
Initial estimates by Maryland departments overseeing capital projects suggest that additional use of public-private partnerships could contribute between 6 percent and 10 percent — or $205 million and $315 million respectively — of Maryland’s $3.1 billion annual capital budget while creating as many as 4,000 jobs. This includes an estimated $160 million to $240 million annually that could be invested in Maryland transportation projects through public-private partnerships.
Included in the GBC’s testimony in support of public-private partnerships was the recommendation that review of such agreements be conducted in an expedited manner and that the legislature limit its oversight.
The potential for public-private partnerships is illustrated by the existing partnership with Ports America to operate the Seagirt Marine Terminal. Such partnerships are an important resource for applying private-sector resources to bear in operational and capital challenges faced by our fiscally-constrained state. It’s to Maryland’s benefit to develop a set of policies that provide for careful planning of such agreements, but also ensure reasonable and timely government overview and implementation.