Sunday, August 30, 2015

Two for the roads

Two big-name political figures nosed into the state battle to get more funds for highways and bridges. Both tend to be lightning rods.

Two for the roads


As the state Legislature debates whether and how much to raise taxes and fees to better fund highways, bridges and mass transit, two political figures -- and frequent lightning rods -- weighed in this week with predictable opinions.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell, now, among other things, an MSNBC political analyst, did a media conference call Thursday urging the Republican House to follow the lead of the Republican Senate and pass a multi-billion-dollar package raising gas prices and vehicle fees.

Rendell said a quarter of the state's bridges and nearly a quarter of its roads are in need of repair and that more mass transit money is needed not only in Philadelphia but for systems across the state.

The Democratic big-wig also noted past state administrations and past PA legislatures raised gas taxes without any voter backlash, and that the pending package would mean 50,000 new construction and related jobs to spur the state's economy.

This view contrasted sharply with the views of political consultant and former Fox News pundit Dick Morris who met with Republican lawmakers and told them voting for new transportation spending would cost them their legislative majority and the governorship next year.

The online news service reports Morris spoke to a Republican Campaign Committee gathering at the Harrisburg Hilton Wednesday and told attendees supporting new fees and taxes would ensure political defeat in 2014.

While the transportation funding issue faces an uncertain outcome, it does have bi-partisan support, passed the Senate by a 45-5 margin and is backed by no-taxes-no-fees Gov. Corbett.

And, as was pointed out in capitolwire's coverage, Dick Morris' predictive skills are suspect. He lost his Fox contract after predicting on the eve of the 2012 presidential election that Mitt Romney would win in a landslide.


Daily News Political Columnist
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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

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

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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