Gov. Phil Murphy inked a bill Tuesday aimed at expanding who's able to take part in partnerships with private businesses to finance and complete public projects.
Murphy signed the bill in a ceremony at The College of New Jersey in Ewing.
The measure, Senate Bill 865, would expand the types of eligible projects under the public-private partnerships (P3) between government entities and the private sector.
Those partnerships would enable government bodies such as school districts, municipalities, counties and state entities to enter contracts with private businesses, who in turn assume responsibility for construction, redevelopment, repairs, maintenance and operations of a project for the benefit of the public.
Prior to the Tuesday signing, the P3 programs only allowed for public-private partnerships between public universities and private businesses.
Murphy said there are “tremendous benefits that can arise when public officials and private sector partners work together.”
“By doing so, we give state, county, and local officials the much-needed flexibility they need to improve their communities while creating good-paying new jobs – in most cases good, union jobs – while leveraging private capital to invest in public infrastructure,” Murphy added.
The state treasury will oversee the new program, which would require a set time for public input, finance controls and approvals for land use and finance.
If the public entity leases the new project, be it a road, building or form of infrastructure, in exchange for upfront or structured financing by the private entity, then the lease couldn’t last more than 30 years.
Mike Cerra, assistant executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, said many smaller towns can utilize the P3 program for hyperlocal ambitions, rather than the extensive, multimillion redevelopment projects utilized by institutions such as Rutgers University.
For example, towns can use the program to redo or widen main roads, build a new ramp, improve public buildings or construct a teen recreation center or a high school sports stadium.
“Public-private partnerships are an innovative way to permit a wider array of entities to engage the private sector to help advance critical infrastructure and facilities projects,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, a S865 sponsor.
“This is a way to empower the private sector so that we can address our state's infrastructure issues and ensure these projects are completed in a structured, timely and cost efficient manner," he said.