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.