2013-09-26 / Front Page

Transportation Bill Could Get Vote In State House

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A $2.5 billion proposal to raise taxes and fees to fund improvements to Pennsylvania’s highways, bridges and mass transit systems might soon get a vote in the state House, three months after it stalled during lawmakers’ budget negotiations.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, said at a Pennsylvania Press Club appearance on Monday that he was working toward scheduling some type of vote in the near future.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly in June to approve a $2.5 billion a-year transportation funding plan that later met opposition from the House’s Republican majority, many of whom oppose the new taxes and fees that it would require.

Turzai said the vote was being planned at the request of Gov. Tom Corbett, even though Turzai himself opposes the Senate bill and Corbett has never voiced support for it, either.

“Look, he’s the governor,” Turzai told reporters. “He’s the governor from our party. This is what he’s advocating for.”

House Democrats largely support the Senate’s bill, and any vote in the House likely would require Democrats to supply the lion’s share of votes, since Republicans control the House by a 111-92 margin. The Senate’s bill also is supported by business groups and labor unions.

A spokeswoman for the Republican governor said later that Corbett had not specifically asked Turzai for a vote on the Senate bill. Rather, Corbett asked for action on a transportation funding bill,without saying what exactly he would support.

Monday marked the Legislature’s return to Harrisburg, after lawmakers departed Harrisburg in early July without passing three of the governor’s top agenda items: increasing gas taxes to improve transportation systems, privatizing the sale of wine and spirits and changing the state’s major public employee pension systems.

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