Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Little Traction for Rendell's Transportation Funding

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell continues to beat the drum for transportation funding, but his statewide media blitz has had little impact on legislators.
House and Senate leaders say they're still not returning to work until mid-September.
Rendell spent last week touring the state in a bus, visiting structurally deficient roads and bridges to make his case for increased transportation funding.
He wants lawmakers to boost the state's gas tax, bump up vehicle registration fees, or pass any other law filling a 500 million dollar infrastructure funding gap.
Rendell said taxpayers support his initiative.

"It's the one thing, I think, in government spending, in this era of people saying, no, don't spend on this, don't spend on that. It's the one thing that I think transcends the public's general feeling that we're spending too much money. People don't believe we're spending enough to keep our infrastructure safe."

He said a 3.5 cents per gallon increase in the gasoline tax would be negligible.
"The average cost to the average driver, who drives 12-thousand miles a year, would be 67 cents a week. 67 cents a week. I think that would not hurt the economy. I don't mean to be a -- I know we're in tough times, but 67 cents a week I don't think is going to hurt anybody, or cause anybody not to hire anybody."

Rendell initially wanted lawmakers to return to Harrisburg in mid-July to pass transportation bills, then changed his stance and urged them to come back in late-August. Leaders in both chambers say they won't return to the Capitol until mid-September, and some are privately predicting not a single transportation measure will be called to a vote this year.
Rendell admits he's lost some clout.

"I'm like that football coach who's been around year after year, and the players are sort of a little tired of the coach. Number 1. Number 2, they know they can wait me out now. I've got five months to go. So I know I don't have a lot of leverage."

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