Democrats push Corbett for more money for Port Authority
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State Rep. Dan Frankel and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald this afternoon called on Gov. Tom Corbett to lead the way in efforts to find new sources of money for mass transit.
Mr. Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, Mr. Fitzgerald and a dozen other state, county and Pittsburgh officials -- all Democrats -- appeared at a press conference to build support for a proposal to raise another $200 million for bus and light-rail service from Pennsylvania Turnpike revenues. His measure, House Bill 2112, is part of a three-bill package to increase state spending on transit, road repairs and bridge maintenance.
The Port Authority, which operates bus service in Allegheny County, announced this week that it is beginning the process to cut more than 40 routes and eliminate as many as 600 jobs unless it gets additional funding.
Mr. Frankel said he had seen evidence of "the inklings of a bipartisan solution" to provide more funds for transportation projects. The proposed House legislation resembles a Senate measure introduced by Centre County Republican Jake Corman.
The Senate and House versions each are based on the recommendations of a Transportation Funding Advisory Committee convened by Mr. Corbett, Mr. Frankel said.
Mr. Frankel was asked why no Republicans were present at Thursday's news conference. GOP senators and representatives were "playing their cards close to the vest," until they see what position Mr. Corbett was going to take on transportation bills, he said.
Republican legislators are "not going to stick their necks out until they know what the governor is willing to sign off on," state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said.
A spokesman for Mr. Corbett offered little comfort to the Democrats.
"The Port Authority's problems were created locally, and they should be solved locally," said Kevin Harley. "For years, generous contracts and high management salaries, combined with unrealistic pension costs, have strained the system to the breaking point. Gov. Corbett wants to see the problem solved, but the Democrats, who have controlled Allegheny County for all but a handful of the past 80 years, will have to do their part."
First Published January 19, 2012 12:00 am