Last Thursday morning, former President Bill Clinton was at L.A. City Hall with Mayor Eric Garcetti to discuss strategies to finance economic development and to promote job growth, climate mitigation and resiliency through 21st century infrastructure. Clinton was joined by the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange and spent much of his time touting the opportunity to use public-private partnerships to advance infrastructure projects in Los Angeles and California.
The business community in Los Angeles and California is in complete agreement. However, you won’t find strong support for public-private partnerships in Sacramento. The same day that President Clinton was in L.A., the California Assembly passed a resolution urging lawmakers to oppose contracting out for public services. Proponents of the resolution said that outsourcing leads to a lack of transparency and accountability for taxpayer dollars and that the private sector isn’t as reliable or efficient as the public sector.
Labor unions in Sacramento have objected to outsourcing and public-private partnerships for years always using the same logic. As a result, California lawmakers who would like to compare prices and those who have visited other cities and nations where public-private partnerships are working, have been handcuffed to the status quo.
President Clinton knows that there is not enough money in Washington, D.C. or Sacramento to address the infrastructure needs of our nation or state. He also knows that public-private partnerships are viable. “We should be organizing our financing around the challenges of tomorrow, not the solutions of the past,” the former president said. Obviously, that message has not yet seen the light of day in Sacramento.