Letter to the Editor: Gov. Corbett Needs to Raise New Money for Buses, Roads and Bridges
State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl says political fear isn't a good enough reason not to implement revenue-generating ideas that could save bus routes and repair roads and bridges.
A panel handpicked by Gov. Tom Corbett issued a report in August that recommended the state raise $2.7 billion in new revenue to help finance our woefully underfunded mass transit systems and repair our aging roads and bridges.
Since that time, the legislature has waited for the governor to lead on this issue and say which suggestions he would accept from the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission. After all, he has the power of a veto, and no bill will advance without the backing of the governor.
We're continuing to wait, and we are seeing the consequences of the governor sitting on his hands.
The Allegheny County Port Authority will have a $64 million deficit in the fiscal year that starts July 1. The authority is poised to make drastic cuts to service and jobs.
The proposed cuts would eliminate 46 of 102 bus routes and scale back the remaining routes. It would greatly reduce ACCESS service for those with disabilities, potentially stranding some in their homes. About 100 Pittsburgh neighborhoods and suburban communities would lose service, and about 500 of the Port Authority's 2,500 workers would lose their jobs.
Those proposed cuts come on the heels of a 15 percent service reduction and 180 layoffs last year.
It's time for the governor to lead so we can avoid these cuts and make improvements to our transportation infrastructure before the problems get worse and more expensive.
The proposals range from a modest increase in fees to removing an artificial cap on the wholesale tax on gasoline. The cost is 70 cents per driver per week in the first year and $2.54 per driver per week in the fifth year, according to the commission.
This issue has brought together labor and business groups and Republican and Democratic lawmakers. State Sen. Jake Corman, a Republican from Centre County who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has introduced a bill that reflects the committee's recommendations.
“We’re going to do this someday, and it’s not going to get cheaper; it’s going to get more and more expensive,” Corman told The Associated Press. “So the time is now to act; the problem is obvious. The only reason not to do it is political fear and that’s just not acceptable.”
Everyone is prepared to go along for the ride. We're just waiting for the governor to take the wheel.
Adam Ravenstahl represents the 20th Legislative District, which includes parts of Ross and West View Borough.