Transportation bill on target
In approving state transportation legislation, our governor and state legislators got it right. Not only did they find a way to make sausage, they included ingredients that produced a product low in fat that will actually improve our health. While the bill is far from perfect, it's not bad when compared with a product more generally known for artery clogging attributes.
The recipe was based on the Transportation Infrastructure Funding Commission report produced in August 2011. Since it was published, the $3.5 billion in transportation needs detailed in the report has likely risen to well over $4 billion. Because the legislation calls for phasing in its primary source of revenue, removing a cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax, the $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion per year of funding for highways, bridges and mass transit will not be achieved for five years.
Yes, we will continue to face a gap in transportation resources and needs. But that will ensure that PennDOT continues to find ways to make every dollar count. And transit systems throughout the commonwealth will still need to find and implement new operational efficiencies.
While much was said of the bill's provision to increase the prevailing wage requirement for transportation projects from $25,000 to $100,000, the provision will only impact a very small percentage of projects. The last time the prevailing-wage level changed was in 1961, and this ingredient was essential in the political process.
Joseph P. Kirk
The writer is executive director of the Mon Valley Progress Council.