May 27, 2014


Right-Wing Media Ignore Facts In Push For VA Privatization. Conservative media are exploiting alleged problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to argue for the privatization of the VA’s health care system — a solution opposed by experts and veterans organizations as unnecessary and ineffective.  Media Matters for America (blog)

“Boehner Suggests Privatizing The VA: ‘I Still Like The Idea, And Especially Now'” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is floating the idea of privatizing the Department of Veterans Affairs following multiple reports of abuses and delays of care at the agency. . . . Privatizing or partially privatizing veterans health care was most recently considered during the 2012 presidential election by Mitt Romney, who proposed giving service members government vouchers to “choose whether they want to go in the government system or in a private system with the money that follows them.” Veterans groups quickly rejected the idea, arguing that access to VA-sponsored care through private providers would undermine the existing system that is exclusively suited to meet veterans health needs and treat war injuries and could lead veterans to “lose the many safeguards built into the VA system.” Following the backlash, Romney abandoned the proposal. ThinkProgress

IN: Hoosier privatizing no longer windfall. . . Instead, investors in state projects are more likely to demand guaranteed fixed annual payments before providing money for the projects, The Times in Munster reported. The shift reflects investors’ desire to insulate themselves from the risk that revenue from the projects won’t meet expectations, said Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation. Poole said many public-private partnership projects “have gotten into trouble because projections were a little too rosy.” The new approach to privatization has forced officials in Indiana and Illinois to rethink their funding plans for the 47-mile Illiana Expressway. In early 2013, the states had hoped that investors might pay the entire cost of the toll road in exchange for keeping the toll proceeds. But that idea was dropped, and the states are now offering private investment teams competing for the project annual payments throughout the 35-year lease. If toll collections fall short of those fixed payments, the states will have to make up the difference.Indiana and Illinois also estimate they may have to pay a combined $270 million in cash to investors in the form of milestone payments in 2018 and 2019 once the road is built.  The Herald Bulletin

MA: State considers a private route toward pricey public road projects. . . Now, a commission created by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2009 is studying public-private partnerships, which could be used to eliminate Route 3’s Hingham bottleneck, build a second Sagamore Bridge and create revenue-producing opportunities at some of the 133 state-owned rest areas, weigh stations and park-and-ride lots. . . . Route 3 could see the first high-occupanecy toll lane in the state. The lane would stretch 9 miles, from the Braintree Split to Exit 14 in Rockland, where the road drops from three lanes to two. It would be built by a private developer, who would use open-road tolling to recoup the construction costs and generate a profit. Enterprise News

VA: State roads board wants greater transparency in public-private projects. The Commonwealth Transportation Board wants greater transparency – and possibly a greater role — in the public private transportation project process. The 17-member body on May 14 passed a resolution asking the director of the Office of Transportation Public Private Partnerships to undertake “an extensive and exhaustive review of the processes, policies, manual, and guidelines” used in soliciting, developing, negotiating and implementing the public-private projects. The review is aimed at increasing transparency, the competitive process and public involvement, as well as more direct involvement by the CTB in the development, negotiation and implementation of such transportation projects.  Richmond Times Dispatch

MO: Gov. Nixon will veto school transfer bill. Gov. Jay Nixon will use his veto pen on a bill allowing students to transfer to private, nonreligious schools because he says it doesn’t address problems in the current school transfer law. “Every child in Missouri deserves a quality public education, and that is why I am vetoing (the bill),” Nixon said Friday. “(The bill) fails to address the challenges resulting from the existing school transfer law and instead, would create even more problems by allowing public funds to be used for private schools and pulling the rug out from under students who have transferred.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MS: State hospital cancels private contract. Five months after the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield privatized its Community Services Division, the contract with Key Behavioral Essentials has been terminated. “The Department of Mental Health has terminated the certification of the provider that was to assume responsibility for providing services to some of the individuals who had been receiving services through the hospital’s Community Services Division,” Mississippi State Hospital spokesman Adam Moore said last week. “Based on that decertification, Mississippi State Hospital canceled the agreement with the provider.” The Clarion-Ledger wasn’t able to get a response Friday from the Department of Mental Health on the reason for the termination. Key Behavioral Essentials also couldn’t be reached for comment. Jackson Clarion Ledger

NC: Tensions rise over NC charter school rejections. A state screening board’s recent decision to reject most charter school applications has sparked tension over the role private management companies should play in public education. The N.C. Charter School Advisory Board approved only 11 of the 71 applications filed to open schools in 2015. That’s fewer than half the number approved for 2014, with a similar number of applications.  Charlotte Observer

OH: Ohio’s charter school dropouts soar, push state in opposite direction of US.  Dropout rates nationally are on the decline, but Ohio’s rate is on the rise. Granted, some dropout charter schools graduate nearly half of their students on time, a notable feat considering students enter these programs at least a year behind their peers in traditional high schools. But that’s not the norm. Many dropout charter schools, including White Hat’s chain of Life Skills centers, consistently report single-digit graduation rates. Over the course of last school year, more students dropped out of Life Skills than attended on the average day. Together, they are dragging down the state’s overall rate. Akron Beacon Journal

FL: Public-Private Partnerships (P3) Legislation a Hot Topic at the Florida Logistics & Trade Conference. Public-private partnerships (P3s) received significant attention at the 2014 Florida Logistics and Trade Conference.  The overall consensus of the conference’s P3 Panel, which was moderated by Albert Dotson, is that the state of Florida has cultivated a positive climate for P3s to thrive. Florida is prime for new infrastructure development and has established itself as a place where deals actually get made.  The National Law Review

CA: Public comment: The Silent Infiltration of Privatization. . . The private sector has been slowly and subtly implementing changes in Berkeley to marginalize people’s rights. For instance, in late 2011, residents in Berkeley were introduced to Measure S, an act that would ban sitting and lying down on sidewalks from 7:00am to 10:00pm near business districts. Business owners favor this measure because it would potentially promote a cleaner and friendlier environment that would attract more clientele. According to the measure, people who periodically violate the rules “within 30 days of a warning, would receive a $75 fine or community service.” Berkeley Daily Planet