Getting transportation funding right
I'd like to point out a few errors in the editorial "Must a bridge fall down?" (Feb. 12).
First there is your notion that moving forward on new transportation funding legislation should be a quick and easy proposition for any administration. It was only six months ago that the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission delivered its final report to Gov. Corbett. The state's economy has been anything but robust since the report was issued, and the idea of rushing legislation through does not make sense for taxpayers. A careful analysis of the dozens of funding ideas in the report is the right course of action. We need to ensure that any funding package will be durable and sustainable. As the governor said in his budget speech recently, the transportation funding shortage has been decades in the making. It's not going to be solved in six months.
You also contend that the governor is cutting transportation funding in the proposed budget by about 9 percent. In fact, state funding for transportation will remain about the same in the next fiscal year. It's the loss of federal money in several areas, and the end of our accelerated bridges program, that are shrinking the transportation budget.
Is there a need for additional transportation spending in the commonwealth? Absolutely, but as the governor also said in his budget speech, those solutions will only be possible with assistance and support from lawmakers.
Barry Schoch, secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Harrisburg
The call to care for creation
Thank you for the excellent opinion piece "On climate change, society trails science" (Monday). As a pastor, I was especially glad to see religious voices included in the article. People of faith are organizing in Philadelphia and around the country to raise awareness of the spiritual, moral, and ethical issues raised by climate change. God's call to care for creation and bring justice to the poor demands that we act now.
Cheryl Pyrch, pastor, Summit Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia
Value of reliable mail service
The editorial "Easier to battle rain, snow" (Wednesday) accurately stated the value of the mail and the need to avoid degrading service to the public.
Ending Saturday delivery or closing large numbers of facilities would not only affect Philadelphia area residents, it would hurt small businesses that are open weekends and need to receive financial documents. It would also jeopardize the roughly 300,000 private-sector mailing industry jobs in Pennsylvania that depend on a robust Postal Service.
There is a better option: Addressing the cause of 90 percent of the red ink, a factor unrelated to the mail. A 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal Service - alone among all public agencies or private firms - pre-fund retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, and do so within a decade, costs the Postal Service $5.5 billion annually. Fiscal years 2007-2010, for example, saw a $611 million net profit delivering the mail, but pre-funding caused $20 billion in red ink. Congress created this artificial problem; Congress can fix it.
Then the Postal Service, which hasn't used a dime of taxpayer money in 30 years, can continue to adapt to the needs of an evolving society while providing the world's most affordable delivery service.
Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Washington
Tough choices at Sunoco
Tony Auth's Feb. 29 cartoon suggests that Sunoco takes pleasure in laying off workers and giving up on an entire line of business. Nothing could be further from the truth. The last several years have been difficult and traumatic for everyone at Sunoco. No one likes seeing friends and coworkers lose their jobs.
The company has worked hard to treat affected employees with dignity and respect. For example, Sunoco's severance package for workers at the Marcus Hook refinery was stronger and more valuable than one offered by a non-local company that shut down its area refinery.
Our refining business has lost nearly $1 billion in the past three years. With the losses projected to continue, we faced a tough choice: Stay in the refining business and put the entire company at risk of failing, or exit the refining business, stop the financial losses, and start building a better future for a hometown Philadelphia company.
The choice was clear but difficult. We decided to save the jobs of our 7,600 non-refining employees, focus on our growing logistics and retail businesses, and remain a part of the region's business community.
Dennis Zeleny, chief human resources officer, Sunoco Inc., Philadelphia