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Corbett pushes transportation spending bill

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday renewed his appeal for a compromise on stalled legislation to ramp up state transportation spending, slapping his hand on a lectern and holding up a chunk of concrete and rebar from a bridge in need of repair.

Corbett tried to set the tone for the next two weeks of negotiations before lawmakers return to Harrisburg on Nov. 12. He urged everyone to give a little bit of ground and for people to contact their legislators.

“A reliable transportation system is not a matter of personal convenience,” Corbett told reporters after an unrelated news conference in his Capitol offices. “It is a matter of safety, of our livelihoods, of our economic competitiveness with other states, and frankly with other countries, and is a matter of our overall quality of life.”

The governor warned that without new funding, more highway jobs will be lost because state transportation dollars are shrinking. And he echoed the warnings of supportive legislators who say the chances of the bill's passing diminish the closer next year's election gets because it carries a hefty tax and fee increase that might not be publicly popular.

“Do not take this lightly,” Corbett said. “If this bill does not pass this year, I don't know when it will.”

The legislation would boost the state's spending on Pennsylvania's transportation systems by almost 50 percent, while making the state's fuel tax rates among the nation's highest.

Pittsburgh mayoral candidate and Councilman Bill Peduto said he traveled to Harrisburg on Tuesday to urge legislative leaders to pass a transportation funding bill. The Democrat spoke Wednesday night after the opening of the reconstructed South Highland Avenue Bridge — a key connection between Shadyside and East Liberty. The $4.4 million project was paid for in part with state money.

Trib Total Media staff writer Bob Bauder contributed to this report.

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