Government
7:55 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Coalition Urges Swift Passage of Transportation Bills

A coalition of nearly thirty labor unions and community groups wants Pennsylvania's General Assembly to pass a transportation package this fall.

Patrick McMahon, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union in Pittsburgh, said the group plans to write to legislators and hold rallies in support of greater investment in the state's "crumbling transportation infrastructure."

McMahon said the coalition is endorsing the funding recommendations made by the governor's Transportation Funding Advisory Committee (TFAC) earlier this summer.

"We will support whatever it takes to generate the new revenues to support transportation," said McMahon. "We have talked about this for too long in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. What we need is our elected officials to step up and have the political will to go there and do what's right for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the citizens."

Some of the TFAC recommendations were to take the cap off of Pennsylvania's oil and gas tax, to increase licensing and registration costs, and to close several driver's license centers.

McMahon said giving a boost to the state's transportation funding levels would also get people back to work — not only by providing construction jobs for new projects, but also by restoring mass transit routes and the associated jobs.

The coalition is also urging federal lawmakers to renew the country's gas tax. BlueGreen Alliance senior policy advocate Rob McCulloch said the tax is set to expire on September 30.

"If that goes away, we're looking at a billion dollars lost to the economy in the first ten days," said McCulloch. "Without the gas tax, without renewing the federal transportation bill, 4,000 jobs [will be] lost immediately, with the potential to lose a million jobs across the economy over the next year."

The coalition is comprised of labor unions, environmental groups, and community organizations. McMahon said the super-group will hold a rally in East Liberty on September 24, to urge state legislators to pass an expanded transportation funding bill.