Times Op-Ed on the 30/10 Plan

I wrote something up for the LA Times on how to save (at least parts) of the 30/10 plan from federal gridlock today in the LA Times. You can see it here. Sharp-eyed Times reader Mike Schneider from InfraConsultant LLC wrote to challenge me on the statement:

Though none of the 30/10 projects is likely to yield ticket sales or tolls, which is what Meridiam usually seeks, the fund financed a portion of the state courthouse in Long Beach based on simple loan repayments.

He noted, correctly, that there are some potential tolling projects on the 30/10 list. I wasn’t thinking of those–I was thinking of the transit projects that Mayor Villaraigosa has emphasized so much. But the writing isn’t clear, so Mr. Schneider is right.

Even so, there are companies that have had hard luck with tolling concessions in the past few years, with projects approaching or nearing bankruptcy both in California and elsewhere. It’s not clear we can draw any lessons from these recent cases: the economy after 2007 struggled, and many businesses that were highly leveraged have struggled. I don’t think we know whether private investments in infrastructure have had it any worse (or better) than private investment more generally. And despite the glitches for some companies, investors are still very interested in bonds from tolling concessions. LA and Villaraigosa could take advantage of that interest without having to wait for the feds to get their poop in a group (which isn’t happening until after November–if even then).