Dear KTFC member or friend:
Coalition members were treated to a very informative update at our monthly meeting this week, thanks to PennDOT Deputy Secretaries Jennie Louwerse and Larry Shifflet.
The discussion covered a broad range of transportation funding-related issues, including the details of a recent study conducted on the economic benefits of public transit and passenger rail. But perhaps the most relevant was an overall, simple description of what the recently passed federal infrastructure initiative means for Pennsylvania, and what Pennsylvania needs to do to ensure it leverages all of the funds for which we are eligible.
Here’s the math:
Under the infrastructure bill, Pennsylvania is eligible to receive about $13 billion (that’s correct, billion with a “B”) over the next five years. Of that amount, $9 billion is the anticipated amount we would have received without passage of the new funding measure.
That means we are eligible for $4 billion in new funding, which would go a long way toward restoring the condition of our transportation system, supporting thousands of additional jobs.
But there may be a catch. The federal government typically requires states to put up a local match, most often 20%. That would mean the Commonwealth itself must find $1 billion in new money in order to receive all of the $4 billion available in federal funds. Failure to do so would result in reallocation of a portion of the federal money to other states that can provide a local match.
This comes at a time when the Turnpike’s $400 million annual subsidy to public transportation is expiring, and PennDOT has already projected a funding gap.
Our friends at Associated Pennsylvania Constructors have some thoughts about how to maximize the federal dollars we receive. In short, it is to accelerate the reduction in Motor License Fund revenue that has been diverted to support State Police operations. The diverted amount is being reduced yearly, but this year it is still nearly $700 million.
Of course, lawmakers would still need to accommodate the needs of the State Police, but given the condition of Pennsylvania bridges and highways (we ranked 39th in the country in road conditions and cost effectiveness in a recent nationwide study), we can’t afford to leave any of the federal money on the table.
Be of Good Cheer,
— The Wolff