On Monday, March 7th, HB 7027, relating to the Department of Transportation, by the House Transportation & Ports Subcommittee and Rep. Patrick Rooney Jr. (R-Palm Beach Gardens) was amended and passed through the Senate floor by a vote of 37 yeas to 0 nays.
HB 7027, which is one of two substantial transportation and port related bills moving through the House, contains a number of important provisions for AIF and its members.
One of AIF’s top transportation priorities, the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Program (FSTED), is increased by $10million ($25 million) in HB 7027. This program which supports growth and economic activity at the state’s ports serves as an important program and one that has been extremely successful for the state. Additionally, the bill aids some of the state’s smaller contractors by creating the Business Development Program which is designed to help companies navigate procurements for road projects while increasing competition for the work.
HB 7027 creates a state FDOT Financing Corporation which will serve as a financing mechanism for Public Private Partnerships (P3s) across the state. By creating the FDOT Financing Corporation, the state would offer a mechanism to provide reliable, state bonds for up front financing of P3 projects in the state. In doing so, the Department believes this approach would leverage lower capital costs provided to the municipal bond markets as an option for securing financing for the upfront costs of P3 projects. Several members of the committee expressed concerns about this proposal however, citing existing state programs and financing options as being already available for P3 projects.
HB 7027 must now return to the House to be considered as amended.
AIF supports increasing the FSTED funding and spending cap levels from $15 million to $25 million, a very important provision for Florida’s ports. AIF also supports creating the FDOT Business Development Program as a mechanism to help educate and provide expertise to Florida’s small businesses looking to do work in the Department’s often-complex procurement process.