While Pennsylvania’s legislative leaders argue over thresholds for prevailing wage projects and gasoline tax rates, one of the state’s most popular former governor’s is calling on lawmakers to act quickly.
“Transportation infrastructure is key to not only the quality of life but your ability to be competitive,” said former Gov. Tom Ridge. “People will see that once Pennsylvania invested today in its future, they’ll get immediate results.”
Legislation to increase the size of a construction project needed to trigger the prevailing wage mandate from the current $25,000 to $100,000 is up for committee vote this week. A second bill expands the definition of routine maintenance, which do not fall under the prevailing wage rules.
The two bills are seen as a olive branch to Republicans, who are balking at the $2.2 to $2.4 billion dollars in new funding that would hike gas taxes by an estimated 25 cents a gallon, but it could erode Democratic support.
New and higher fees and fines are also being considered has part of the funding formula. Ridge said he hopes a final bipartisan draft of the legislation would be approved this week.
“(Pennsylvanians) will see an improvement of mass transit services, they’ll probably see major projects initiated right away, and they’ll begin to see repairs that are long over due,” Ridge said.
The Republican who served as governor from 1995 to 2001 said the system has been “under funded for quite some time.”
“My appeal would be that people on both sides of the aisle accept the reality that for Pennsylvania to be competitive, to keep jobs and create jobs, we need a vastly improved infrastructure and the transportation bill would do just that for all of us,” Ridge said.
The house is in session Tuesday and Wednesday and then will not meet in a voting session until Nov. 12.