Pennsylvania keeps suspense on PPP bill

A house vote to install a Quaker State PPP programme was shelved until the New Year, the second time the ballot got put off.

Legislation endorsing private sector infrastructure financing as a solution to help prop up debt ridden Pennsylvania took a backseat with a senate decision to put off voting on the proposal.

Regardless, the state house did pass a proposal to aid jobless compensation, but postponed weighing in on ‘House Bill 3’, which sought to create a state-wide public-private partnership (PPP) programme.

Tuesday marked the second deferral of House Bill 3, since the senate had been originally set to vote on the proposal before Thanksgiving. With the end of the 2011 term, the bill has been consigned to be revisited in 2012.

Governor Tom Corbett as well as Pennsylvania Department of Transportation head Barry Schoch have voiced support for a pro-PPP agenda. Fixing and maintaining transportation infrastructure will run the state an annual – as of now unavailable – $3.5 billion.

Corbett in 2011 established a think tank to explore installing a centralised PPP blueprint for the state. The governor-appointed PPP team in turn enlisted investment bank Greenhill & Company for assistance. 

In fact, the boutique investment bank hired Ed Rendell in 2011 as a part time special adviser. Rendell, one-time Pennsylvania governor, made a failed bid to privatise the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 2006. He was unseated by Corbett in 2010 in a contentious election.

Meanwhile, a federal court judge has prevented Harrisburg, the state capital, from filing for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy and instead opted to put Harrisburg up for receivership. That court order could lead to a long gestating Harrisburg sale of leases of its waste incinerator and parking.