IN THE NEWS — Articles From Around the Country

Not Getting Their Money’s Worth

January 4, 2014 (New York Times) — At first glance, two recent crises to hit the White House — the revelations about unlawful surveillance and the botched health care rollout — have nothing in common. But each is a reminder of the increasing extent to which government work has been contracted out to private-sector companies. Currently, Washington spends about $500 billion a year on private-sector contracts, more than twice the amount in 2000. Read the full story.

Private Toll Road Investors Shift Revenue Risk to States

November 26, 2013 (Bloomberg.com) — Companies that build private toll roads are pressing states to assume more financial risk of traffic not meeting expectations, a change that benefits the operators while threatening to increase taxpayer costs. Read the full story.

Public-Private Partnerships Are Popular, But Are They Practical?

November 1, 2013 (Governing.com) — The message was clear: America’s infrastructure is struggling, but the private sector can help. “No one wants another bridge to collapse, as did the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge,” testified a Morgan Stanley official. That tragedy, which killed 13 people, underscores the need for expanded new, federally subsidized financing tools, he told Congress. Read the full story.

How Parking Meters Killed Privatization of Midway Airport

September 13, 2013 (Washington Post) — At the height of the financial crisis in 2008, the chairman of a major finance company addressed the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. “Desperate government,” he said, “is our best customer.” Read the full story.

Across US, Bridges Crumble as Repair Funds Fall Short

September 3, 2013 (Los Angeles Times) — America’s roads and bridges have been eroding for decades, but the deeper they fall into disrepair, the less money there is to fix them. First, the recession crippled local budgets, cutting the money available for transportation projects. As states began to recover, the federal government adopted its own mandatory budget cuts via sequestration. Then last month, the federal legislation that annually funds transportation projects across the country hit a roadblock of Republican opposition that throttled multibillion-dollar transportation bills in the House and Senate. Read the full story.

The Loss of the Public Good

August 21, 2013 (Baltimore Sun) — Much of the rest of what’s considered “public” has become so shoddy that those who can afford to do so find private alternatives. As public schools deteriorate, the upper-middle class and wealthy send their kids to private ones. As public pools and playgrounds decay, the better-off buy memberships in private tennis and swimming clubs. As public hospitals decline, the well-off pay premium rates for private care. Read the full story.

HOT Lanes are Even More Popular When They’re Expensive

August 19, 2013 (Atlantic Cities) — Everyday, sometimes twice a day, commuters in the increasing number of U.S. metro areas with a HOT lane ask themselves that timeless question: to pay, or not to pay. How they answer depends on the toll price, which charges single-occupancy cars for HOT access based on congestion levels. Logic suggests that as the toll goes up, fewer drivers would fork over the money — for the same reason we sit coach on a plane once we see the price of first-class.Read the full story.

Old Tax, New Fees Among Options for Highway Funding

June 6, 2013 (Politico) — The next highway and transit bill might be more than a year away, but a string of major infrastructure failures has lawmakers and advocates already thinking about how to boost funding. Read the full story.

Obama to Nominate Anthony Foxx as Transportation Secretary

April 28, 2013 (Reuters) — President Barack Obama plans to nominate on Monday Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Anthony Foxx to be his next transportation secretary, a White House official said on Sunday. Read the full story.

Obama Wants $50B for Roads, $40B for Rail, MAP-21 Exension in 2014 Budget

April 10, 2013 (The Hill) — President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal calls for Congress to approve $50 billion in immediate spending on U.S. highways and $40 billion on long-distance railways. Read the full story.