Friday, November 27, 2015

Transportation talks - still on cruise control

Transportation talks - still on cruise control



House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) said Wednesday that he will push for a vote on transportation funding next week, regardless of whether there is agreement on a plan with enough support to pass the GOP-controlled chamber.

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday's House session, Turzai said that talks are still ongoing with Democratic colleagues and the Corbett administration to strike a deal on how to provide additional funding for roads, bridges and mass transit.

But, he said, if consensus cannot be reached, he will seek to move a transportation funding bill next week that everyone acknowledges does not have the votes needed to pass the chamber.

The matter, said Turzai, needs "to be brought to a head."

Other top House Republicans have said that if a deal cannot be struck by the end of the weekend - and voted on by the House next week - the legislative effort will likely die. That is partly because after next week, the House is off and is not scheduled to return until November 12.

Transportation funding is a top priority for Gov. Corbett, and scoring a legislative win on the issue is considered important to his reelection.

Yet the issue has been stalled by a disagreement over how much additional money to spend, and where to spend it. The Senate passed a $2.5 billion plan in June, but many Republicans in the House - Turzai included - have balked at the price tag.

That is the proposal Turzai would bring up for a vote next week if no other agreement can be reached.

Last week, House Speaker Sam Smith (R., Jefferson) jump-started transportation funding negotiations, insisting that changes to Pennsylvania's prevailing wage law be part of the package.

Bill Patton, spokesman for the House Democrats, said Wednesday that his caucus does not support making any such changes, but nonetheless said there is "cautious optimism" for an agreement. Democratic support is critical to the passage of any transportation bill.



with Democratic colleagues and the Corbett administration to negotiate a
with Democratic colleagues and the Corbett administration to negotiate a


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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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