Wagner ramps up pressure on transportation bill, coy on gov's race


Sounding like a candidate but remaining mum on his plans, ex-Auditor General Jack Wagner said Monday he’ll announce by year's end his decision regarding the 2014 governor's race.

Wagner, the two-term auditor general and former state Senator from Allegheny County gave an impromptu news conference in the Capitol Monday to sound the alarm on the state's crumbling infrastructure.

If Wagner enters the governor's race, he would be the ninth Democratic candidate and the only one from the western part of the state to challenge incumbent Gov. Corbett. Wagner lost the 2010 Democratic primary to Allegheny County executive Dan Onorato.

"I am seriously considering running for govenror nbut have not yet made a decision," said Wagner.

Earlier this year Wagner lost the primary race for mayor of Pittsburgh.

On Monday Wagner said the Republican-controlled House is blocking movement of the Senate-approved $2.5 billion transportation funding bill that would include money to repair bridges and roads and help transit systems.

"It's been 2 1/2 years since Gov. Corbett's transportation commission put forth its report and zero has happened," said Wagner, who compared the level of legislative disfunction in Harrisburg to Congress.

He said Pennsylvania has the worst infrastructure in the nation as evidence by the number of structurally deficient bridges and the collapse of five bridges in the past five years, including a section of I-95 in Philadelphia.

He said while there were no fatalities in those incidents, he does not want to see a tragedy before something is done.

"It's time to stand up and be counted as serious leaders in government who have the guts to make the tough decisions," he said." What are we waiting for, a major catastrophe?"

Wagner said Corbett could be doing more to push the transportation agenda and singled out House Majority leader Mike Turzai (Rl., Allegheny) for advocating what he called an insufficient $500 million funding bill as a compromise.

"We don't need a Band Aid, we need a commitment to solving this crisis," he said.

Some House Republicans are staunchly opposed to any tax or fee hikes that would be needed to secure funding for the transportation bill.

Wagner said if action is not taken before the end of 2013 that, because of election year "tax-and-spend" jitters, the issue will be "left to the next governor in 2015."

Interesting choice of words. Last we heard Corbett announced he was indeed running for re-election.




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