Government & Politics
7:44 am
Tue September 24, 2013

House GOP Leader Plans Vote on Transportation Funding Bill

The leader of the state House Republicans plans to seek a floor vote on a transportation funding proposal passed by the Senate last May.

Majority Leader Mike Turzai doesn't support the $2.5 billion proposal, but he notes that since Democrats are clamoring for it and the governor has noted his support for it, the measure should be brought to a vote.

"If people think that $2.5 billion annually is the right investment, you know, they should be able to stand up and stand behind it," Turzai said during his appearance at the Pennsylvania Press Club in Harrisburg Monday. "We're looking to see exactly if the governor is or is not behind the Senate bill."

House Republicans couldn't muster majority support to pass a smaller $2 billion plan last June because some from their party thought it too excessive, while Democrats considered it too low to fund roads, bridges and mass transit.

Turzai is no supporter of large transportation funding proposals that rely on raising taxes, fines, and fees to generate money. He's not calling for a vote on the roughly $2 billion plan that passed out of a key House committee before summer. Instead, he's calling for a vote on the even larger $2.5 billion plan that cleared the Senate by an overwhelming vote.

"We have a governor who's advocating for this," Turzai said. "He's a governor from our party. He wants that opportunity and we have to work with him."

Turzai said he supports a smaller transportation funding proposal, on the order of $500 million or so, that would fund "critical" needs, like bridge repairs, ahead of other infrastructure maintenance items.

Last month, the head of PennDOT put new or additional weight restrictions on 1,000 bridges as a result of the Legislature's failure to pass a transportation funding plan before summer.