There were plenty of people commenting after the State House last night voted down a bipartisan transportation infrasturcture bill that would have addressed the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. Perhaps most stark of all was the dire prediction of Representative Jeff Pyle, who said, “Mark my words, there will be a bridge go down.”
The plan pushed by Governor Tom Corbett and endorsed by former governors Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker, and Ed Rendell, would have generated $2.4 billion for highways, bridges, and mass transit. Republicans voted for it, 59-51, but Democrats were against it by a 52-39 margin. On second consideration, the bill fared even worse.
Indiana County’s three representatives, House Speaker Sam Smith, Dave Reed, and Pyle, all voted for it. Smith had brokered the bill – some said reluctantly – at the behest of Governor Corbett.
Democrats refused to support the bill because of the prevailing wage concessions it contained. Even with labor union support for the plan, they did not want to be seen as voting for a bill that failed to maintain union wages on non-union jobs. The Republicans who voted agains the measure said it was because the bill would have given Pennsylvania the highest gas tax in the nation, and too much of the revenue would be directed toward mass transit instead of fixing roads and bridges.
Speaker Smith said it would be back to the drawing board today.