House leaders begin Special Session to solve transportation funding crisis


HARRISBURG, May 4 – House Democratic leaders said today’s opening of the Special Session on Transportation and Governor Ed Rendell’s address helped to lay the groundwork for substantive policy discussions aimed at solving the Commonwealth’s transportation crisis – a crisis exacerbated by the federal government’s April decision to reject the state’s application to levy tolls on Interstate 80.

“One fact is absolutely clear – we cannot afford to wait any longer, and every option must be put on the table,” House Speaker Keith R. McCall, D-Carbon, said. “Every aspect of Pennsylvania’s economy depends on a modern transportation infrastructure, and we’re looking at a funding shortfall of a half-billion dollars just to keep our heads above water on repairs – to get ahead of the problem we’re literally looking at billions of dollars. I’m hopeful this special session will deliver commonsense solutions.”

“Pennsylvania has more structurally deficient bridges than any other state,” Majority Whip Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, said. “Without some new source of transportation funds, the backlog of critical bridge repair and replacement work will continue to grow, with an increasing potential for disastrous consequences.” “An effective modern transportation network is vital to Pennsylvania’s economic growth,” Majority Appropriations Committee Chairman Dwight Evans, D-Phila., said. “For the Commonwealth to thrive, it is critical for us to have safe roads and bridges and efficient transit systems that allow us to link people and goods to jobs and businesses in every corner of the state.” As part of the special session process, House Majority Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Markosek, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland, plans to hold public hearings at locations across the state to gather input from the public and from transportation industry experts. “I want to hear from all corners of the state,” Markosek said. “All options are on the table, and it is my hope that we can come up with a bipartisan solution to address the vast needs of our aging transportation infrastructure.” A special session of the legislature can only be called by the governor and runs concurrently with the regular session schedule. All legislation introduced in a special session must be directly related to the session’s topic. The last Special Session was convened in 2008 and focused on energy.

(Source: House Democratic Caucus)