ROBERT SWIFT: Capitol Matters: State looks to the private sector
HARRISBURG - The pace of efforts to privatize state government operations is picking up speed at the midpoint of Gov. Tom Corbett's first term.
The focus in recent weeks has been on the move by the Revenue Department to privatize management of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Now comes an effort to determine if private firms are interested in running the state traveler information systems. A newly created state board is seeking proposals to operate the Transportation Department's 511 system and the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Roadway Information Program.
In operation since 2009, the 511 system provides motorists with information on traffic-delays, weather forecasts and winter road conditions.
"With innovation in the marketplace happening at a lightning pace, a public-sector entity such as PennDOT cannot take full advantage of the latest advancements, so we will challenge the private sector to provide us with a solution that allows us to do just that," said Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch.
Mr. Schoch chairs the Pennsylvania Public Private Partnership (P3) Board formed under a state law enacted last year that authorizes the transportation department to partner with private companies on transportation-related projects. The P3 board is also soliciting proposals from private firms interested in other department activities ranging from the sponsor-a-highway program to sponsorship rights at state Welcome Centers and rest areas.
Rep. Kevin Haggerty, D-112, Dunmore, is moving ahead with proposed legislation to provide state funding for the cost of having school resource officers in elementary schools as a safety step.
He wants to make the funding available for public, charter and parochial school buildings.
"It is my intention to make this funding retroactive for schools that have already taken steps to fund school resource officers in their respective elementary schools," said Mr. Haggerty in a bill cosponsorship memo.
He has launched an online petition drive for the legislation at his website www.pahouse.com/Haggerty
Mr. Haggerty plans to meet next week with Rep. Mike Regan, R-92, Carroll Township, to build a bipartisan approach to the legislation.
A House lawmaker wants casino patrons to pay a $2 entrance fee to help financially shore up the two state pension funds.
Rep. Paul Clymer, R-145, Perkasie, plans to introduce a bill to require the fee. The revenue would be split between the State Employees' Retirement System and Public School Employees' Retirement System.
ROBERT SWIFT is Harrisburg bureau chief for Times-Shamrock Communications newspapers, of which The Daily/Sunday Review is a part. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.