Press Release by Dominic F. Pileggi, Pennsylvania Senate, 9th District
Senate leaders [on June 5th] hailed Senate passage of a comprehensive proposal to fund Pennsylvania’s transportation needs, a measure vital to both public safety and economic growth. The bill was approved by a vote of 45 to 5 and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Sponsored by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty (R-44), Senate Bill 1 will invest more than $2.5 billion in the Commonwealth’s highways and bridges, transit agencies, railways, airports and ports. It follows the major recommendations made by the Governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission.
“I am very pleased by the collaborative effort of members from rural, suburban and urban communities in crafting this legislation,” Rafferty said. “It received such strong bipartisan support because it will benefit residents in every area of our state.”
Rafferty said the bill represents a bipartisan effort to fund transportation projects throughout the state and address critical safety issues. Pennsylvania has more structurally deficient bridges – nearly 4,400 – than any other state in the nation, and 23 percent of its 44,000 miles of state-owned roads are in poor condition.
“A recent report by a national transportation group found that the poor state of Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges costs state residents $9.4 billion annually in vehicle operating costs, congestion delays and traffic accidents,” Rafferty said. “When you look at those statistics, it is very clear that state residents are paying the price for our deteriorating infrastructure. There is a cost if we don’t take action.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) praised Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch for his efforts to gain passage of the bill.
“Senate Bill 1 takes a crucial step towards solving the current demand to fund our rapidly deteriorating roads and bridges across Pennsylvania,” Scarnati stated. “Secretary Schoch’s advocacy and determination to find a fair and well-thought-out funding plan was instrumental to the passage of this bill.”
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) said the measure is crucial not only to public safety but to economic growth.
“Transportation funding is a core responsibility of state government, and it has been 16 years since Pennsylvania enacted a meaningful transportation funding program,” Pileggi said. “The time for action is now.”
Senate Bill 1 will raise revenue through a number of sources, including adjusting outdated vehicle driver fees for inflation, increasing fines, uncapping the Oil Company Franchise Tax over three years and modernizing many PennDOT services for cost savings.
Rafferty said the fact that the bill received overwhelming support in the Senate indicates that the need to increase funding is critical.
“Pennsylvania is at a crossroads. Our roads and bridges continue to crumble, our mass transit systems lack the funds for expansion needed to meet continued demand, and our railways, airports and ports struggle to be economic generators for the 21st century,” Rafferty said. “This bill will enable us to begin investing in our transportation network now – rather than putting off much-needed maintenance, construction and safety upgrades that are crucial our state’s future.”