The week before last the PA Senate passed a bill authorizing $1.4 billion in additional funding for highway and bridge construction in Pennsylvania’s 2013-2014 fiscal year, with the funding growing to an additional $2.5 billion in 2018. Although House leader Mike Turzai was initially opposed to the bill’s size and method of raising revenue, the PA House has put the legislation on the floor for discussion as part of the end of year legislative flurry.
This morning I sat next to one of the Governor’s aides at the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance partnership meetings. His opinion was that the Senate would move on passing the House’s plan for privatizing liquor and wine sales this week, an event that would trigger the House moving to pass a transportation bill of its own that could be reconciled with the Senate’s version so that the Governor would have something to sign by the end of the month.
The 2013-2014 budget that the House passed last week was by no means a boon to public construction. There are some economic development and business attraction elements that would produce future construction projects but even those are at risk with a shortfall still projected. Passage of a transportation bill – even if it is inadequate to solving the problem – would fix some of the growing problems in PA’s infrastructure and show that the Commonwealth does intend to keep commerce a high priority. Not coincidentally it would also result in 30,000-50,000 new jobs, depending on the magnitude of the funding. In a state with a failing system of bridge and roads (not to mention struggling public transit), the political courage to raise revenues and invest is critical to our economic future.
As an update to an earlier post, the list of firms competing for the CM at Risk contract for the $14 million Jefferson surgical center in Bethel Park includes dck, Graziano, A. Martini, Mascaro, PJ Dick, Rycon, Whiting-Turner.