More money for roads, bridges and mass transit?

 

The Pennsylvania Senate on Wednesday approved a $2.5 billion transportation-funding bill aimed at repairing thousands of aging bridges and miles of roads while pumping more money into public transit.

The plan, championed by Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty (R., Montgomery), ups the ante on Gov. Corbett's more modest $1.8 billion proposal to address the state's infrastructure problems.

Though it received overwhelming support in the Senate by both Democrats and Republicans, the issue is controversial in the Capitol and faces an uncertain future in the House of Representatives, where it now heads.

The reason: a number of legislators, including many conservative Republicans in the House, have questioned whether the amount of money being dedicated is really necessarily to accomplish the goal. Yet other legislators, many facing reelection next year, also worry about voter backlash, since the bill would, among other things, increase driver licensing and other driving-related fees.

Still, before the vote, Rafferty called on his colleagues to show political courage and vote for what he called "a core function of government: looking out for the health, welfare and safety" of Pennsylvania residents.

"Do not let fear for what could happen make nothing happen," he said.

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