As I've commented recently (here and here, for starters), I'm definitely seeing an increasing interest in privatization across the board as state and local governments begin to reckon with the perfect storm of declining tax revenues, growing budget shortfalls, and swelling unfunded pension and health care obligations.
In fact, there's so much privatization activity now that it's becoming difficult to keep track of everything. Since blogging everything individually would be prohibitive in terms of time, I've decided to periodically blog a roundup of recent articles on privatization not covered elsewhere in the Out of Control blog. The articles below are some highlights from the last three weeks alone:
- "Partnership saved taxpayers $22M on hospital: report," Times Colonist
- "Ill. lottery lease plan faces new obstacle," Belleville News Democrat
- "Competition Authority gives go-ahead to Turkish lottery privatization," Today's Zaman
- "New York City Comptroller Eyes Infrastructure as Funds Investment," The Bond Buyer
- "Post office plans to privatize bulk mail," The Jersey Journal
- "Gary talks about privatizing airport," ABC7Chicago.com
- "Piecemeal privatization of Turnpike?," Pottstown Mercury
- "Treasurer defends Toll Road investments," Indianapolis Star
- "City waste contract out for bids," Kokomo Tribune
- "Animal lovers, city workers disagree on shelter privatization," Muncie Star Press
- "Trenton city administration plans to privatize technical inspections," The Times of Trenton
- "Freeholders table plan to privatize services at county nursing home," The Star-Ledger
- "Miller citizens sue to stop Gary garbage privatization," Munster Times
- "State busing contract coming," Woonsocket Call
- "Privatization of the electric distribution system for Pennsylvania Air National Guard Base," Trading Markets
- "Officials prepare to privatize Montgomery County center's rehabilitation services," The Colonial
- "Lawmakers say private prisons can save the state money," Tulsa Beacon
- "ACS inks $27 million Alaska contract," Bizjournals.com
- "Washington County considers privatizing some trash operations," Glens Falls Post-Star (more here)
- "Town could privatize dump operations," The East Hampton Press
Add these stories to those that we've already blogged on Out of Control, and it becomes very clear that privatization has been a hot issue in October 2008. And that should come as no surprise.
Though most eyes have been focused on Wall Street and Washington DC the last several weeks, the less-recognized story is that the financial crunch is having a tremendous impact on state and local fiscal conditions. The burst in the housing bubble in many areas, and the cold housing market more generally, has put downward pressure on property tax revenues for starters. And the true extent of the damage won't be known for months. So governments are having to scramble to do more with less, and policymakers seem to be increasingly recognizing that privatization is one of the proven tools for doing so.