Senate committee passes $2.5 billion bill for roads, bridges and transit
By Brad Bumsted
Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 11:15 a.m.
HARRISBURG — The Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday “took a big step in the right direction” in approving a $2.5 billion annual revenue bill, the chairman said.
It is aimed at improving the state's highways and bridges. The legislation would provide money to the state's transit systems.
With bipartisan support, the bill passed the committee, 13-1.
“We want to see transportation on the front burner” as the General Assembly completes the final two months of session before summer recess, said committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery County, who has 28 co-sponsors for the bill.
The bill would uncap the so-called oil company franchise tax on the wholesale price of gasoline, increase driver's license and registration fees and add a $100 surcharge to fines for traffic violations.
Rafferty said he will wait a few days before sending the bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said he hopes a full Senate vote will happen in early June.
It's not clear whether the Republican-controlled House will support the legislation.
“We'll take a look at what the Senate produces before we comment on what we will do,” said House Republican spokesman Stephen Miskin.
The lone vote against the bill was made by Sen. Richard Kasunic, a Dunbar Democrat. He did not comment at the meeting.
“This is maybe the most important piece of legislation we've considered in several years,” said state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana County, citing public safety as the state's top responsibility.
“We're not doing it because we want to do it,” said Sen. John Wozniak of Johnstown, the ranking Democrat on the committee. “We're doing it because we have to do it.”
Unwillingness to support the bill indicates lack of “political courage,” Wozniak charged.
Yet Rafferty acknowledged: “This is not an easy lift for some people.”
Gas tax money cannot be used for transit. The traffic violation surcharges would help transit, Rafferty said.
The bill contemplates a gradual shift of some Pennsylvania Turnpike revenue for state roads to public transit, he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police charge Westmoreland County priest in $124,000 theft case
- Pittsburgh police to tear up parking tickets written ‘erroneously’
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Pittsburgh’s Rubber Duck to be redeployed to Norfolk
- Small plane crashes at Washington County Airport
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Crosby lifts Penguins over Capitals in last game of road trip
- 2 Jeannette women rescued from burning apartment building
- Pittsburgh council introduces resolution to pay Rocco’s vet bills
- Marcellus shale driller Noble Energy Inc. sinks roots into Pittsburgh
- Ordinance requires Pittsburgh government to publish data online