Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Transportation Inundation

Get ready for a push on fixing roads, bridges and transit systems. The signs are there that a push is on.

Transportation Inundation

As I argue in Monday's column, the most likely "get" on Gov. Corbett's big, broad list of things to do is some sort of new funding to fix roads, bridges and mass transit.

How that happens is an open question. New revenue from lifting the cap on the wholesale gasoline tax? New revenue from increases in transportation-related fees such as vehicle registration? Some sort of plain, up-front gas tax? New tolling on some roads or bridges? Some combination of these?

What's very clear is after years of ignoring crumbling infrastructure issues critical to the state's economy, a push is on to get and keep the issue front and center as the Legislature shapes a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Monday in Harrisburg, the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition, representing labor, freight-haulers, local governments, chambers of commerce, travel and tourism, the highway construction industry and more, holds a transportation summit.

Among those scheduled to take part:PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, U.S. House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-PA, and Greater Philly Chamber of Commerce boss Rob Wonderling,

Tuesday at the Capitol, Secretary Schoch is to testify at a hearing on funding before at the state Senate Transportation Committee.

Meanwhile, the Majority Party PA, which tracks public polling on issues, notes inconsistencies in how voters see the problem. While a new Franklin & Marshall College poll released last week shows 82 percent of voters think the state should spend more on transportation, a collection of polling data also shows only 45 percent support Corbett's plan for lifting the wholesale gas tax; and polling over the past two years shows 60 percent oppose new tolling, 62 percent opposed a new gas tax and somewhere between 48 percent and 57 percent are willing to pay more for registration and license fees.

Point is, expect lots of attention on transportation in the days, weeks and months ahead. And expect some action, a rarity in Pennsylvania, on an issue in need of same.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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