New York governor urges public-private partnerships

| 7/31/2008

Like the governors of Indiana, Illinois and others before him, and with the governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in a similar bind to find funding, New York Gov. David Paterson has begun discussing the possibility of leasing of state assets to private investors.

Paterson called for a special session of the New York Assembly to begin Aug. 19 to tackle budget and spending issues.

“In the interim, my administration will confront the following issues: addressing the size of the state work force; further cuts to agency spending and generating proposals for public and private partnerships for our state assets,” Paterson stated in a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday, July 29.

Paterson said New York is officially in a recession and without reform would carry a $26.5 billion budget shortfall over the next three years. He ordered a hiring freeze and a 7 percent cut to most state agencies including the New York State Department of Transportation.

He told reporters that some state assets will be put up for lease but he did not elaborate beyond describing them as public-private partnerships.

Talk of a private-sector takeover of infrastructure or other assets sends up a red flag for highway user groups including truckers who already pay taxes to support those assets.

“Once again we have a governor who finds himself in a tough situation fiscally and is looking for an easy out,” said Senior Government Affairs Representative Mike Joyce of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“The easy out in his thinking is selling assets. It’s a very short-sighted concept that will leave future generations in a worse situation than they currently find themselves.”

Joyce said truckers can relate to a struggling bottom line and that Paterson has found himself in a bind.

“He’s making proposals to save money and that’s good, but selling assets that users have already paid for is not good,” Joyce said. “A long-term lease is as a sale.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer