State House expected to vote next week on transportation bill

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HARRISBURG -- A state House vote on a major transportation funding package could come as soon as next week.

Legislative staff will be hammering out an agreement this weekend, in the hope of a vote next week on a $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion funding package, said Dave Thomas, chief counsel to the Speaker of the House.

"I think next week is vital," Mr. Thomas said Friday. House members will be in Harrisburg on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; after that, they won't return to the Capitol until Nov. 12.

A $2.5 billion annual transportation funding package for roads, bridges and mass transit passed the Senate in June, but never came to the House floor for a vote.

Transportation funding is a major priority for Gov. Tom Corbett, and the Senate bill has the backing of a broad range of business and labor groups.

The bill has been a tough sell in the House, however. It has been attacked by conservative Republicans as a tax increase, because it would raise revenues by removing a cap on a tax paid by gasoline suppliers, an increase that would likely be passed on to consumers at the pump. House Majority leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, denounced the measure, saying it didn't have his support.

Meanwhile, talks have been ongoing in recent weeks between some House Democratic and Republican leaders to cut a deal - in part by removing a surcharge for moving violations that accounts for about $100 million in revenue, and coming up with another source for the funds.

Also on the table: some Republicans are demanding changes in the state's prevailing wage law, which requires union-scale wages on publicly-funded road maintenance projects.

Mr. Thomas said Friday that's still key to a deal.

Major details still remain to be determined, he said, such as the exact amount of the funding, and how much money would go to fund mass transit, a major priority for House Democrats.

breaking - state - Transportation

Kate Giammarise: kgiammarise@post-gazette.com or 1-717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise. First Published October 18, 2013 10:38 AM


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