The Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet says the state is experiencing huge loses by not implementing public-private partnership (P3) legislation and allowing more private investments in the state’s parks and other tourism areas that bring people to Kentucky.
In their testimony to lawmakers in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Tuesday, Tourism Cabinet officials showed a video illustrating the increasing losses of the state’s parks and tourism industry.
“Our solution: P3,” the video shown to legislators said.
The officials explained that all of Kentucky’s surrounding states have public-private partnership laws in place to set up a clear and transparent process for P3’s to ensure an even playing field with oversight and taxpayer protection. Sen. Max Wise, the sponsor of the Senate’s P3 bill, asked about the ways other states are using public-private partnerships to help with their parks and noted the fact that Kentucky’s lack of P3 legislation is hurting the state’s competitiveness.
Public-private partnerships (P3s) mean more private sector jobs with fewer tax dollars expended. The Kentucky Chamber has been a vocal supporter of P3 legislation to create more business opportunities.
Currently, parks and some other areas are able to do P3 projects but there is no oversight for the contractual agreements between a public agency and a private-sector entity to deliver a service or provide a facility for use by the general public.
Because of this, the Tourism Cabinet officials explained that the lack of a proper process for these type of deals makes it hard to attract private investment that would help the state parks, Kentucky Horse Park, state fairgrounds and more.
Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Don Parkinson gave an example of an investor who was interested in putting private capital into a project at General Burnside State Park located just south of Somerset, Kentucky. But because of the current “slow and bureaucratic” system that Parkinson says makes Kentucky a difficult and hostile place to do business, the state lost out on that investment.
Many legislators in the committee meeting expressed their support for the P3 legislation, stating that P3 projects can be a way to help ailing parts of the state’s economy in a time of budget cuts. Sen. Brandon Smith noted that the private sector can often times do things more efficiently and effectively for less.
Parkinson completed his presentation by stating the need for Kentucky to have a strong tourism industry as much of the U.S. population is within a day’s drive of the state and urged legislators to pass this legislation.
The Kentucky Chamber is also calling for Kentuckians to get involved and call your senator to call for passage of a comprehensive public-private partnership (P3) bill. Find out how to call your legislator and help spur action on the legislation as well as more details of the bill here.
See the video shown by the Tourism Cabinet below: