During the 2017 legislative session, VTCA worked with the House and Senate Republican leadership to include a budget amendment that would prohibit the Commonwealth from mandating Project Labor Agreements on P3 projects. That amendment passed both the House and Senate. Governor McAuliffe vetoed the provision, claiming that it would likely limit the number of companies willing to participate in transportation projects under the Public-Private Transportation Act. This was just downright false…and the legislature got it, overriding the Governor’s veto 66-34.
Despite an overwhelming override, the Governor chose to veto the entire transportation section of the budget (which he can do under the Constitution), rather than accept the limitation on PLAs. This is just politics at its worse. Favoring unions over good business and respect for Virginia as a “right-to-work state” the Governor erroneously stated that…”Vendors involved with PPTA projects are typically national and international firms. Any restrictions on these vendors will reduce the possible benefits Virginia could reap from its PPTA projects. My veto will remove this new restrictive language since it is likely to limit the number of companies willing to participate in transportation projects under the Public-Private Transportation Act.”
Recognizing the fallacy of the Governor’s statement, the Speaker of the House commented “the action taken by Governor McAuliffe on language related to the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995 is unprecedented in recent memory. The amendment clarifies that language adopted by the 2012 General Assembly applies not just to state-managed contracts for transportation projects, but for Public-Private Projects as well. The amendment does not prohibit labor agreements, it simply states they may not be mandated. It is disappointing that Governor McAuliffe would use the budget to curry favor with big union bosses. We are reviewing the Governor’s actions to assess their impact on the budget.”
Since the veto applies to the budget amendments (this is not a budget year), the entire transportation section of the budget reverts back to the version passed by the General Assembly in 2016. The full impact on the transportation program is yet to be seen.
We will be back next year with legislation to prohibit the Commonwealth from mandating the use of PLAs on P3 projects. The reasoning is simple: 1. Virginia is a right-to-work state and mandating PLAs is inconsistent with that policy; 2. The Commonwealth, by law, cannot mandate PLAs on design-bid-build or design-build projects…and it should be the same for P3 projects; 3. The proposed language did NOT prohibit PLAs…it just prohibited the Commonwealth from mandating them.