State Rep. Leslie Combs, the General Assembly’s leading advocate for expanding public-private partnerships (P3) in Kentucky, recently took part in a national meeting focused on this growing trend in state and local government.
“We are seeing a lot of governments across the country partner with private businesses on projects that range from building multi-billion dollar bridges to running government programs like lotteries and utilities,” said Rep. Combs, D-Pikeville. “My goal is to expand those types of opportunities here in our state, because it will enable us in many cases to provide projects and services that government alone could not do as easily or as affordably on their own. P3s are a new way to overcome an age-old problem.”
Rep. Combs served as a panelist last Friday during a conference hosted in Washington, D.C., by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Those serving with her included the president of the National Conference of State Legislatures and a high-ranking official in Virginia’s Attorney General’s office.
Earlier this year, Rep. Combs sponsored legislation that would have expanded P3s in Kentucky. While it did not become law because of concerns tied to a proposed bridge project in Northern Kentucky, her bill received major bipartisan support from both the House and Senate, including co-sponsorships from all five House leaders and the House Minority Floor Leader.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce was another major proponent, with its president calling the bill “a way forward where the private community can be called on to help achieve the public good.”
“I told those at the conference about the hurdles we faced and how we plan to overcome them,” said Rep. Combs, who chairs the House budget committee that oversees the state’s transportation system. “After hearing from those who have worked on this issue in other states, I’m confident we will be successful when the General Assembly meets early next year. It’s time Kentucky joins those states that are already benefiting from P3s.”