Public-private financing partnerships needed to repair nation’s public buildings, Young says

U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) on March 28 sponsored a bipartisan bill that would provide tax-exempt financing to the private sector via partnerships with the U.S. government to repair and maintain numerous federally owned buildings around the country. 

“We owe it to our students and teachers, our firefighters and nurses, and all taxpayers to find a way to upgrade our schools and public buildings,” tweeted Sen. Young on Thursday after introducing the measure. “This is a public health and safety issue that impacts not just Hoosiers, but all Americans.”

The Public Buildings Renewal Act of 2019, S. 932, cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), would incentivize private financing to rebuild schools and public buildings through public-private partnerships. 

“Today I joined@SenCortezMastoto intro a bill to address this safety issue,” Sen. Young also tweeted. “It works to enable local governments to access private financing to support public building projects for the first time, so that much needed building upgrades can occur.”  

Sen. Cortez Masto said that “Congress can cut red tape today to keep our citizens safe and prolong the lifespan of our public buildings. I’m proud to join Senator Young in this effort to remove barriers to investing in critical infrastructure and improve the condition of our nation’s public buildings.” 

Public-private partnerships (P3s) mainly have been used for transportation projects and currently are ineligible for federal tax-exempt facility bonds, according to Sen. Young’s statement. 

If enacted, S. 932 would open up the American public buildings market to P3s by adding public buildings as a new class of projects eligible for financing with private activity bonds, Sen. Young said.

“By creating a $5 billion private activity bond allocation for state and local governments, public buildings can access private financing for the first time,” his statement says. 

The bill would permit state and local governments to enter into long-term contracts with a private-sector company to design, build, finance, and/or operate what would remain a government-owned building, according to the senator. 

S. 932 has been referred to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for consideration.