What a Pa. transportation bill should look like

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The economic reasons for investing in Pennsylvania's roads, bridges and mass transit needs have been well-documented. I appreciate Gov. Tom Corbett's call for the Legislature to act, even though he took about 18 months to respond to the August 2011 recommendations of his own transportation commission.

I have supported previous efforts to provide long-term dedicated transportation funding, and I believe a new bill must meet these requirements:

* It must meet our state constitution's standards -- it has to be a House bill because all revenue-generating bills must originate in the state House, under Article III, Section 10. That's why Rep. Dwight Evans and I recently introduced HB 1823.

* It must have a dedicated source of funding for mass transit which grows with the needs over time and keeps up with inflation. It should provide at least $2 billion of new state money, with at least $400 million going to transit systems throughout the state.

* We should create a commission to look into the state's future transportation needs and the various ways our citizens will travel throughout our state.

* Last, but just as important, any bill should also include workforce and contracting language that encourages and supports employing our chronically unemployed citizens and our struggling small businesses, especially our veteran-, women- and disadvantaged-owned businesses throughout the state. This is an economically critical bill, and it should have long-term positive economic impacts for all Pennsylvanians, whether or not they can afford pricey lobbyists.

STATE REP. JAKE WHEATLEY
Hill District

The writer, a Democrat, represents the 19th Legislative District, which includes the Hill District, North Side, South Side, Allentown, Hazelwood, Downtown, the Bluff, Knoxville, Beltzhoover, Manchester, Arlington, Arlington Heights and West, South and North Oakland.


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