Transportation on the move?

Published by Karen Langley on .

There are signs of movement in the transportation funding debate in Harrisburg.

Efforts by Gov. Tom Corbett and the Senate to raise new annual revenue for roads, bridges and public transit stalled in June, when the House shrunk a $2.5 billion funding bill in committee and then declined to bring it up on the floor.

Last week, at the outset of the fall legislative season, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai signaled something of an impending showdown when he said he would call an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill, which he considers too large.

But Turzai told reporters after session Wednesday that Corbett -- who he said had requested the vote on the Senate proposal -- had then asked him to postpone that vote until lawmakers return the week of Oct. 15.

"We were set to run Senate Bill 1 and its amendments today -- that was after the governor's request as well," Turzai said. "We are complying with the governor's request to move this to Oct. 15." 

A spokesman for the governor, Steve Chizmar, said Corbett indeed asked Turzai to postpone the vote. He said Corbett "has been playing an active role" in working the transportation issue.

"The governor -- unlike D.C. -- recognizes the way we're going to get this done is thorugh bipartisan support, in a bipartisan fashion," he said. "By working together, we can deliver the best possible funding solution."

Chizmar said Corbett expects the final funding number will be between the $1.8 billion in new annual revenue he proposed in February and the $2.5 billion that passed the Senate

Turzai, for his part, said members could have a chance to vote on a proposal to raise about $500 million a year for projects considered to be critical needs. His tone continued to make clear that other parties -- like Corbett -- are driving the transportation-funding movement.

"He is the governor of our party," Turzai said. "At his request we want to give him an opportunity to find the votes and get accomplished what he wants to get accomplished."

And want it he does.

"Transportation funding has been simmering for some time," Chizmar said. "The bottom line is we have one chance to get this right."

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