Privatization a Serious Option

I have been calling for some time now the privatization of state assets, mainly as a way to improve services and reduce state spending. Now that state budgets are actually up against the wall, it looks like momentum for such common sense solutions is bulding:

Minnesota is deep in the hole financially, but the state still owns a premier golf resort, a sprawling amateur sports complex, a big airport, a major zoo and land holdings the size of the Central American country of Belize.

Valuables like these are in for a closer look as 44 states cope with deficits.

Like families pawning the silver to get through a tight spot, states such as Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois are thinking of selling or leasing toll roads, parks, lotteries and other assets to raise desperately needed cash.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has hinted that his January budget proposal will include proposals to privatize some of what the state owns or does. The Republican is looking for cash to help close a $5.27 billion deficit without raising taxes.

And if you notice, it is a wide variety of states that are looking at privatization measures. Big government states such as New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois are looking at the benefits to maximizing efficiency by utilizing the private sector.

Unfortunately, I have no reason to believe that such common sense will seep in here to Maryland, even if a small step was taken in August when the state considered privatization for the Seagirt Marine Terminal. At minimum, Maryland needs to be looking at privatizing the Maryland Transportation Authority assets as well as the assets and operation of the notoriously mismanaged Maryland Transit Administration. Such a minimal privatization plan will save millions of dollars for Maryland taxpayers, and provide taxpayers with better services at lower costs.

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At the very least, Maryland needs to consider how we can maximize the use of our state owned assets to deal with aftermath of the reckless fiscal policies of the O’Malley Administration. There is an opportunity here for the state and its taxpayers, if the Administration and General Assembly can resist their default settings and take advantage of it.


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