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Provision in transportation bill would require review of Alligator Alley privatization

A provision that Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, and Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, helped attach to a larger transportation bill would require that all plans to privatize state roadways first be reviewed by the state's Council on Efficient Government -- a deal that could affect proposal to privatize Alligator Alley.

The main bill, by Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, would set up a commission to study future transportation funding needs. And originally, Aronberg added a provision to that bill requiring that all state road privatization plans receive legislative approval. But that was stripped out by opponents when the House debated the proposal, bringing about the compromise provision, which now awaits a Senate vote with the rest of the bill.

Right now, the project simply would need the approval of the 14-member Legislative Budget Commission.

The seven-member Council on Efficient Government, which would review the privatization deals under the plan, was created by the Legislature in 2006 to review potential outsourcing plans, but Department of Transportation projects are currently exempt. Members of the council include Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Secretary of State Kurt Browning and Linda South, who heads the Department of Management Services.

The review provision is part of a larger effort to block the sale of Alligator Alley to a private company.

Aronberg filed a bill this session that would prohibit state leases with foreign-financed companies. It also would create a two-year moratorium on any deal that would relinquish control of a state roadway to a private company.

Opponents of the plan to privatize the 78-mile toll road that runs between Broward and Collier counties have questioned what the deal would mean for tolls, road maintenance and national security and they have said it might not be the best financial deal for the state.

"This will slow down the rush to privatization," Aronberg said  "And for the first time will have an outside pair of eyes examine whether this deal and future deals are good for taxpayers or just a giveaway to foreign corporations."