BRADENTON, Fla. – Kentucky should join 33 states and Puerto Rico and adopt comprehensive enabling legislation that would open the doors for public-private partnerships and their investors at all levels of government, according to Kentucky Chamber of Commerce white paper.

While the Bluegrass State has used traditional contracting with private partners for certain projects, the state “does not have a strategic approach to contracting for services,” the chamber said in a report. “It also does not have – unlike 33 other states – any form of a P3 enabling law for highway and bridge projects.”

The 24-page report called “Private Solutions to Public Problems: Partnerships to Build a Better Government,” suggests ways the state can address persistent funding challenges when financial demand for state government programs exceeds available resources by broadening the use of P3s.

“The pressure on public resources is compounded by an economy that is still recovering from the recession as well as by unsustainable spending in several areas of state government,” said Chamber Chief Executive Officer Dave Adkisson.

Last year, Kentucky chose a traditional approach to building its half of the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project with Indiana, in part, because a full-scale P3 would have required legislation to accomplish it, according to officials at the time. The state is financing the entire project, and has selected a team to design, build, and operate it.

Indiana, which had prior experience with major transportation P3s, selected a public-private partnership do to its half of the Ohio River Project.

The Kentucky Chamber recommended that the state enact legislation enabling the use of P3s on a wide range of infrastructure projects at all levels of government, and create a state P3 office or council to identify opportunities, do cost-benefit analysis of proposals, monitor contracts, prepare an annual report, and recommend changes in state laws and policies.

According to experts, major international firms in the P3 industry look at states with enabling legislation to ensure that clear authorization is in place for state and local governments to enter the contracts, and that basic standards for the P3 process are clearly stated.

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