Governor Tom Corbett is again asking lawmakers to increase funding for construction and repair of our roads and bridges, and provide adequate financial support for other transportation modes. In a recent news conference in Pittsburgh, the Governor said that public safety and the economy will suffer if no action is taken to increase spending.
"It's a basic, core function of government since the founding of this country that we need to have a good transportation system,” the Governor said. “Here, we have an opportunity to forge a solution that will allow us to rebuild the roads and bridges here in Pennsylvania and at the same time support a mass transit system that gets people to and from places.”
House and Senate members are scheduled to return to session on November 12 and caucus sources say progress has been made on a funding bill. Getting the necessary votes may hinge on a provision that will raise the threshold for projects that must fall under the state’s prevailing wage law. The current threshold stands at $25,000, and was established when the law first passed in 1961. House Republicans want to increase to threshold to $100,000. It’s unclear if the House Democratic Caucus will agree to the change. Even with their strong majority, House Republicans are almost certain to need some Democratic votes to get the bill to the Governor.
A three year-old study, commissioned by the Governor, documented the need for $3.5 billion in additional funding each year to maintain our roads, bridges, and satisfy our other transportation needs. The General Assembly is working on a bill that is shy of that figure, but that is expected to be over $2 billion.
The Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association and other statewide business groups have long supported an increase in transportation funding, citing the critical importance of an efficient and safe infrastructure to our economy.