While policymakers in a number of U.S. states (California, Arizona, etc.) seem to be running in circles talking about divesting themselves of state assets to help address gaping budget deficits, policymakers in the Australian state of Queensland are actually getting it done:
The state of Queensland has launched the sale process for five key infrastructure assets with a combined value of A$15 billion (â’¬8.6 billion; $12.1 billion).
The assets being made available include Queensland Motorways, the Port of Brisbane’s shipping terminal, timber producer Forestry Plantations Queensland, Queensland Rail’s coal haulage and non-passenger businesses and the Abbott Point Coal Terminal. Queensland Rail’s passenger service assets will remain under state control. The Port of Brisbane’s major land holdings, which have been earmarked for development, could also potentially be put up for sale.
State premier Anna Bligh said the asset sales were imperative in addressing Queensland’s A$14 billion budget shortfall over the next four years, which she said was caused by the global financial crisis. Bligh said she has no apologies for doing “whatever is necessary” to ensure the continued delivery of jobs and key infrastructure over that period.
The asset sales are expected to take place over the next three to five years. In addition to delivering estimated proceeds of A$15 billion, the process is also expected to help the state government avoid a further A$12 billion in capital investment over the next five years.
No apologies…whatever is necessary…decisive action to address fiscal crises…U.S. state policymakers could stand to take some lessons in moxie and decisionmaking from Premier Bligh, in my opinion. More on state asset divestiture here, here and here.