As the state legislature prepares for the upcoming special session on transportation, the House Transportation Committee is launching a series of seven hearings (see below) on PennDOT revenues and expenditures. Committee Chairman Joseph Markosek says the goal is to ask the question, “What are we going to do about this current funding crisis for transportation infrastructure?” The state is facing an estimated $3.5 billion a year shortfall in transportation funding. Markosek calls the gatherings, “tough love hearings.” Typically Transportation Committee hearing involve individuals and groups coming before the committee to talk about what projects they would like to see funded. Markosek says this round of hearings will focus on committee members telling their constituents what project will not be funded any time soon. PA Governor Ed Rendell called the special session after the federal government rejected plans to toll I-80 in Pennsylvania. That decision put a $450 million dollar hole in the Governor’s proposed budget. The goal of the special session is to not only find a way to keep this year’s budget in balance but to also find long term solutions to what some call the chronic problem of underfunding transportation in the state. Markosek says the committee will be pen to all solutions but he says usually people come to the committee with ways to pick “low hanging fruit.” He says proposals to up vehicle registration fees or legalize video poker will not make up the gap.
The sessions begin Thursday in Hershey and wrap up June 18th in Monroeville.
The schedule is as follows:
10 a.m. Thursday, May 27
Topic: Statewide perspective and issues affecting the South Central Region (PennDOT Districts 8 and 9).
Location: Derry Township Municipal Building's meeting room, 600 Clearwater Road, Hershey. The location of this hearing was moved from the Irvis Office Building in Harrisburg.
2 p.m. Tuesday, June 1
Topic: Issues affecting the North Central Region (PennDOT Districts 2 and 3).
Location: Lock Haven University, Price Performance Center, 20 Glenn Road, Lock Haven.
2 p.m. Thursday, June 3
Topic: Issues affecting the Mid East Region (PennDOT District 5).
Location: DeSales University Center’s Commonwealth Room, 2755 Station Ave, Center Valley.
10 a.m. Friday, June 4
Topic: Issues affecting the South East Region (PennDOT District 6).
Location: St. Joseph’s University, Mandeville Hall, Teletorium, Corner of 54th Street and City Avenue, Philadelphia.
2 p.m. Thursday, June 10
Topic: Issues affecting the North East Region (PennDOT District 4).
Location: Marywood University, Nazareth Hall, The Latour Room, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton. The date of this hearing was moved from June 2.
2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 17
Topic: Issues affecting the North West Region (PennDOT Districts 1 and 10).
Location: Clarion University, Hart Chapel Auditorium, 850 Wood St., Clarion. The starting time was moved back from 2 p.m.
11 a.m. Friday, June 18
Topic: Issues affecting the South West Region (PennDOT Districts 11 and 12).
Location: Gateway High School, 3000 Gateway Campus Boulevard, Monroeville.