February 26, 2008


1. Feds must lead way on roads
2. State Senator: Managed lanes project on I-635 is critical to North Texas
3. States draw fire for pitching citizens on private long-term care insurance
4. Ark Gov. says rural states unlikely to support toll roads
5. Idaho Gov. dumps private lockup plan, concedes state will own new prison
6. Indiana: Gov. Daniels touts Gary airport
7. Milwaukee school voucher study finds parity
8. Ohio: Residents protest decision to privatize trash collection
9. AZ: Panel pushes P3 toll lanes; rest areas
10.D.C. contacts private groups to aid ailing schools

News Summaries

1. Feds must lead way on roads
US Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, writes in Eugene’s Register-Guard "…Transportation Secretary Mary Peters pushes the Bush administration’s belief that we should freeze federal infrastructure investment and that our massive congestion problems can be solved simply by tolling, rationing and privatizing our surface transportation system. For 200 years, lawmakers have shared the belief that the federal government had a significant responsibility to maintain a surface transportation system that unites our citizens, facilitates commerce and ensures that America is competitive in the global marketplace. That consensus prevailed until the administration of George W. Bush. For the first time in our nation’s history we have a secretary of transportation who wants to phase out federal investment.

2. State Senator: Managed lanes project on I-635 is critical to North Texas
Texas State Senator John Carona (R) touts ‘managed lanes’ (toll roads) in The Dallas Morning News: "A recently discovered accounting error at the Texas Department of Transportation has placed us even further behind in getting the projects we need on the ground…..we must rely to an extent on privatization, toll roads and innovation to fill the gap. Thus, the groundbreaking nature of a critically important effort known as the I-635 Managed Lanes Project.

3. States draw fire for pitching citizens on private long-term care insurance
Last year, six million letters bearing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name and official state seal went out to Californians. The missives, sent by a direct-mail company called Senior Direct Inc., were pitch letters, urging many low- and middle-income residents to buy long-term care insurance to cover any future nursing home bills. Behind the plug: California, like many other states, is trying to curb the high costs of long-term care paid under Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for low-income people, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal (subscription). The state endorsements are "the single best thing that has happened to the long-term care industry," says Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance. Total premiums collected for long-term care, or LTC, policies were $10 billion in 2007, up 21% from $8.2 billion in 2004. Critics are sounding alarm bells. They argue that the financial benefits of LTC insurance for many target customers are negligible to nonexistent. Their income and assets are so low that they would quickly qualify for free care under Medicaid.

4. Ark Gov. says rural states unlikely to support toll roads
While the federal transportation secretary says privately built toll roads can help meet states’ transportation needs, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says rural areas don’t have the traffic counts that will justify their construction. Speaking to the National Governors Association on Sunday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said private dollars are needed to meet highway needs, not just public funds that are subject to regular fights in Congress, according to a report in The Daily Citizen.

5. Idaho Gov. dumps private lockup plan, concedes state will own new prison
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said Monday he’s abandoned efforts to completely privatize Idaho’s new prisons, yielding to lawmakers who weren’t ready to let a company control a state correctional facility. Idaho still needs a new prison, but Otter will accept an arrangement in which the state owns the building and contracts with a company to run it. That’s akin to the existing operation at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise, reports the Idaho Statesman.

6. Indiana: Gov. Daniels touts Gary airport
Leasing Gary’s airport to a private operator “is a tantalizing subject,” Gov. Mitch Daniels told a Washington audience of private-enterprise advocates Monday, reports the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. “The mayor of Gary has said that he is prepared to look at the possibility of some kind of a lease of that facility that might bring some private capital into the game, too,” Daniels said during a question-and-answer session at the American Enterprise Institute. “There’s a heck of an opportunity there if we can get it right,” he said of the airport. “I would use both public and private tools. I support that.”

7. Milwaukee school voucher study finds parity
The first full-force examination since 1995 of Milwaukee’s groundbreaking school voucher program has found that students attending private schools through the program aren’t doing much better or worse than students in Milwaukee Public Schools, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

8. Ohio: Residents protest decision to privatize trash collection
About 300 Upper Arlington residents packed the City Council chambers last night to let council members know how angry they are with its decision to privatize trash collection, reports The Columbus Dispatch. Before the meeting, most of the crowd protested in front of the Municipal Services Center at 3600 Tremont Rd. They were joined by members of Teamsters Local 284, who remove the suburb’s trash, yard waste and recyclables. Michael Schadek organized the protest and a petition drive to place a referendum on the ballot in the November election. He asked council members to postpone their contract with Texas-based Inland Waste Services. Inland is scheduled to begin work April 7, and the city’s 25-person Solid Waste Division will be disbanded. Shelly Smith, 36, a resident of Columbus’ West Side and a 10-year employee of the Solid Waste Division, said none of her colleagues will apply to work for Inland. "They couldn’t tell us what health benefits are," she said. "They couldn’t tell us what they’d pay us."

9. AZ: Panel pushes P3 toll lanes; rest areas
The Senate Transportation Committee has approved a measure requiring the Arizona Department of Transportation to work with private partners to convert carpool lanes on a Phoenix-area state freeway into toll lanes by November 2013, reports The Bond Buyer (subscription). SB 1471, which will be considered by the full Senate this week, would allow vehicles with more than one occupant to use the lanes at no or reduced cost, with single-occupancy vehicles paying the full toll. If the measure becomes law, the highway department would have to issue a request for proposals for converting the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Arizona Highway 51 by Nov. 15, 2013. The bill allows but does not mandate that AZDOT also convert HOV lanes on other state freeways into toll lanes. The committee also approved SB 1466, which would require AZDOT to privatize rest areas along state highways, and SB 1503, calling on the department to privatize the construction of new lanes on existing freeways by July 2009. Two measures that would have allowed state toll roads failed in committee. Members deadlocked on a bill ordering the AZDOT to develop private-public partnerships to finance and operate state transportation projects, and rejected one allowing the department to enter into P3s for the construction, financing, and operation of state toll roads. The committee delayed a vote on a bill that would enable cities, counties, and the state to form special transportation authorities with the power to finance, construct, and operate public highways and toll roads in Arizona with private partners.

10. D.C. contacts private groups to aid ailing schools
D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee are seeking educational management firms or universities to possibly run some or all 27 schools whose students chronically perform poorly, according to the Washington Post. At a news conference yesterday with Fenty (D), Rhee said she has entered discussions with several nonprofit businesses and universities to work with the schools in the fall, although she only disclosed one, Mastery Charter Schools of Philadelphia. The Washington Post reported in November that she had approached Mastery, and Green Dot Public Schools of Los Angeles and St. Hope Public Schools in Sacramento, about managing some failing high schools. It would be the first time the school system employed a private firm to run a school. Outside organizations manage schools in other cities.

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