Pa. House leader: Highway bill could come up for vote
By From Staff and Wire Reports
Published: Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 8:30 p.m.
HARRISBURG — A $2.5 billion proposal to raise taxes and fees to fund improvements to Pennsylvania's highways, bridges and mass transit systems may soon get a vote in the state House, three months after it stalled during lawmakers' budget negotiations.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, said during a Pennsylvania Press Club appearance on Monday that he was working toward scheduling a vote.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly in June to approve a $2.5 billion-a-year transportation funding plan that later met opposition from the House's Republican majority, many of whom oppose the new taxes and fees that it would require.
Turzai said the vote was being planned at the request of Gov. Tom Corbett, even though Turzai opposes the Senate bill and Corbett has never voiced support for it, either.
“Look, he's the governor,” Turzai said. “He's the governor from our party. This is what he's advocating for.”
House Democrats largely support the Senate's bill, and any vote in the House likely would require Democrats to supply the lion's share of votes because Republicans control the House by a 111-92 margin. The Senate's bill is supported by business groups and labor unions.
A spokeswoman for the Republican governor said later that Corbett had not specifically asked Turzai for a vote on the Senate bill. Rather, Corbett asked for action on a transportation funding bill, without saying what he would support, spokeswoman Lynn Lawson said.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he supports the Senate bill and called on legislators to pass it, saying the money is needed to fix crumbling bridges and fund transit agencies such as the Port Authority. He said he hopes the House will vote on the measure. Any attempts to strip out transit funding would “really inhibit” the economic growth in the area, he said.
Monday marked the Legislature's return to Harrisburg. Lawmakers departed the capital in early July without passing three of the governor's top agenda items: increasing gas taxes to improve transportation systems, privatizing the sale of wine and spirits and changing the state's major public employee pension systems.
Turzai said his other short-term priorities include moving new state employees into a defined contribution pension plan, giving local governments some flexibility to shift taxes away from property taxes, addressing problems with cyber charter schools and preventing government unions from having the government collect dues on their behalf.
In February, Corbett proposed a $1.8 billion transportation funding bill that did not get traction in the Legislature, while House Republicans amended the Senate's transportation bill to an approximately $2 billion product. However, that version stalled.
Movement on transportation could encourage Republican senators to support liquor system privatization legislation, a top priority of the House GOP and a proposal that Turzai had a key role in crafting. It passed the House, and a substantially changed version was pending in the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said the only way a transportation funding bill would pass is if Corbett publicly breaks any link between it and wine and liquor legislation.
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.
- 2 Democrats challenge for congressman’s seat in 12th District
- Filings leave Corbett facing new challenge
- Congressional races set for Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania man pleads guilty to threat against Obama
- Worker for Latrobe-based Xcoal on ill-fated flight
- Pa. turnpike crash lesson for planners
- Gas tax could factor into Pennsylvania gubernatorial race
- Contract arranged Pennsylvania Game Commission director’s early exit
- Military veteran ID cards granted on honor system
- Pa. liquor stores record spike in sales before recent snowstorm
- Pennsylvania drug program portrayed as a life-saving tool