Corbett, predecessors urge deal on transportation funding
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett and his three most recent predecessors joined Saturday in a strongly worded appeal to Pennsylvania lawmakers to end their deadlock over transportation funding and prove that “unlike Washington, Pennsylvania can work together to get things done.”
Former Govs. Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker and Ed Rendell — the only Democrat in the group — said the state can no longer put off action on a comprehensive bill that provides billions of dollars to improve the state’s highways, bridges and mass transit systems.
“Not only do we currently lack the resources to expand our network, we’re running out of money to fix what’s already broken,” the governors said in a statement.
Corbett, who recently launched his campaign for a second term, has made transportation funding his top priority and the Senate approved a $2.5 billion funding plan in June that relies largely on increasing gas taxes and motorist fees.
Talks have dragged on for months in the House without producing a consensus, but competing plans were taking shape Friday and a House vote appeared likely as early as next week.
The House Republican majority’s leading proposal, sponsored by the House Transportation Committee chairman, also would boost taxes and fees to eventually generate at least $2.3 billion a year. Democrats have embraced a similar plan but exclude a GOP provision to exempt more local transportation projects from state wage requirements.
An alternate Republican proposal, advocated by Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Allegheny County, would generate $1 billion a year.
The four governors said adequate transportation funding is essential to Pennsylvania’s economy and the safety of its 12 million residents. They said current funding is inadequate to for a transportation system with 9,000 miles of crumbling roadway, 4,500 structurally deficient bridges and mass transit agencies struggling to make ends meet.
“The time for detours has passed. It is time to pass a comprehensive transportation funding bill; Pennsylvania’s future depends on it,” they said.