Corbett, Rendell join forces to urge passage of transportation bill

Gov. Corbett lined up a bipartisan group of supporters in the Capitol Rotunda today to make a last ditch effort to urge the House to take up the $2.3 billion  transportation bill before the end of the year.

Corbett, making a rare appearance at a Capitol press conference with his Democratic predecessor, Ed Rendell, said "the time is now" to pass a comprehensive transportation funding bill that will provide cash for bridge, road and transit improvements.

"No action on the compromise plan that all sides have hammered out in the last few weeks is not acceptable," he said.

"tt's hard to kick a can down a road that's broken," said Corbett, as he made his case for the bill's passage.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell, who has focused on infrastructure needs both while he was governor and after, called the funding situation a "crucial issue" that is "long overdue."

He urged lawlmakers to put aside their differences and get the bill to Corbett's desk. "We can't wait any longer to get this done."

The House scheduled a vote on parts of the package today but it was unclear by mid-afternoon whether the vote would take place.

At issue is an amendment by Rep. Nick Micozzie (R., Delaware), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, to change  the prevailing wage law, which is tied to union-scale wages for public projects. The amendment would increase the current project threshold of $25,000 to $100,000 in 2014. 

The proposal has angered some union leaders - including representatives of the AFL-CIO and Carpenters Union who attended the rally and booed Micozzie, who fear it would lead to lower wages in other sectors.

But another union leader, Pat Gillespie, the head of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, joined Corbett in favor of the bill.

The bill calls for the $2.3 billion to be raised by 2017-2018 for the state’s transportation system, with approximately $1.65 billion dedicated to highways and bridges and $476 million to $497 million dedicated to mass transit.

The new revenue would be generated by lifting the cap on the oil franchise tax - widely expected to raise prices at the pump by 25 cents - and increasing drivers license and registration fees beginning in 2015.

A similar bill - minus the prevailing wage changes - passed the Senate in June in a 45-5 vote.















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