Money for Philadelphia schools may ease way to transportation funding
HARRISBURG — Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's release of $45 million to the cash-strapped Philadelphia school district may represent a step toward an eventual deal on transportation revenue, said staff members for legislative leaders.
Corbett's spokesman, Jay Pagni, flatly denied a connection. “It is not” tied to transportation, Pagni said.
Corbett released the money, removing “what would certainly have been an obstacle, but it does not trigger a deal on transportation,” said House Democratic Caucus spokesman Bill Patton. A Republican staffer confirmed that helping Philadelphia schools may make a transportation deal more likely.
Still, Pagni said, “This has nothing to do with politics; it has everything to do with the Philadelphia school district.”
Corbett withheld the money since lawmakers approved the state budget in June, saying he needed evidence of substantial reform in Philadelphia. A letter from Superintendent William Hite convinced the governor that district officials are making operational and managerial changes, Pagni said.
“I have not heard that buzz and don't think that's accurate,” House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, said on Wednesday of reports there may be a link between the school funding release and a deal on transportation.
“I'm not aware of a deal,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills.
Senate Transportation Chairman John Rafferty, R-Chester County, said he hopes resolution of the school funding issue improves the climate for a transportation funding bill. But he said, “I've had no discussion with anyone about it” except Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch.
Rafferty is sponsor of a Senate funding bill to provide $2.5 billion in new revenue to fix roads and bridges and maintain mass transit.
Getting the Legislature to approve money for transportation needs has proven to be elusive for Corbett. Lawmakers recessed for 2 1⁄2 months in June without approving a transportation bill.
Turzai said he intends to call for a vote on the transportation bill next week. House Republicans are divided on the bill approved by the Senate. Turzai said he favors a $500 million bill for “critical needs” such as structurally deficient bridges.
Most of the money in the Senate bill would come from lifting the cap on the state's wholesale tax on gasoline, which opponents call a tax increase and supporters say is a user fee.
Lawmakers said in June that they perceived a tie between a transportation bill and legislation to privatize the state stores. The state House approved a plan to phase out the state-owned liquor stores but balked at passing transportation funding. The Senate approved Rafferty's transportation bill, but many senators of both parties said they were reluctant to sell the state stores.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol writer. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or email@example.com.
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.
- Hit sends Penguins’ Letang to hospital
- Veteran designation on Pennsylvania driver’s licenses loosely audited
- Lights go out for Earth Hour 2015
- Downie’s goal, fight spark Penguins to win over Coyotes
- Matters of taste
- If you get this letter from the IRS, it’s legitimate
- NHL notebook: Panthers interested in re-signing 43-year-old Jagr
- CCAC president looks to fill educational niche in burgeoning restaurant industry
- Riverhounds win 1st season opener since 2008
- IUP falls short in Division II men’s basketball title game
- Pirates notebook: Polanco’s power outburst a matter of timing