At this week’s Coalition meeting, we received an update from Catie Kawchak, senior legislative assistant for Congressman Lou Barletta. The congressman has been pushing for a federal transportation solution following our meeting with him several weeks ago.
Unfortunately, there still isn’t a consensus on how to fund transportation among the House Republicans or in Congress as a whole. Although the current short-term fix expires in October, budget analysts now say they have determined that there is enough money in the Highway Trust Fund to last until next June (see news item below).
The lack of consensus on funding may lead to creation of a transportation “policy bill” this fall, which in essence would outline a program within the parameters of the funding that’s available. In other words, it would not constitute the multi-year funding measure we’ve all been pushing for.
There are many “reasons” for lawmakers’ reluctance to advance a real solution, beginning with the fact that 2016 is an election year, and a presidential election year at that. There is a perception that incumbents who support a measure that would raise revenue would be risking their political futures.
Although it is discouraging to continue to hear all the reasons that Congress can’t get it done, we will continue to illuminate our experience in addressing our needs at the state level. Not a single incumbent who voted for Act 89 of 2013 lost a race because of his or her support of that funding measure.
We very much appreciate Congressman Barletta’s support of a funding solution (also detailed in a news link below), and we thank Ms. Kawchak for taking the time to give us an update from Washington.
Transportation Issue Update
- Congressman Lou Barletta’s efforts to advance a long-term funding bill were noticed by WITF. The congressman noted that a long-term measure will spur more economic growth across the country.
- The federal Department of Transportation announced that the Highway Trust Fund won’t run out of money until June, six months later than originally projected.
- U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained why the Highway Trust Fund news doesn’t mean the fund is out of the woods.
- Secretary Foxx, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) and Teamsters President Jim Hoffa urged broad, long-term planning and funding for transportation infrastructure at a Newsmaker event at the National Press Club.
- The CEO Council, a group of business, higher education and civic leaders committed to enhancing economic growth and prosperity in the 11-county region across northern Delaware, southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, lent its voice to the ever-increasing proponents of a long-term federal transportation funding bill.
- In public transportation news, Jeffrey D. Knueppel, P.E., will succeed Joe Casey as SEPTA general manager.
- PennDOT is asking Amtrak about the possibility of adding a second daily round trip route between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.
- Every now and then, a news organizations gives us a glimpse of the personalities behind those who look after our transportation system. Here’s the Morning Call’s feature on Lehigh PennDOT District Executive Mike Rebert.
- NewsWorks continues to impress us with its insightful reporting on transportation issues. This month it took a deep look at industrial ports and waterfront development in Pittsburgh, Erie and Philadelphia.
- Barry Drew, who served as a deputy secretary in the Department of Revenue under then-secretary Tom Wolf, was nominated by Governor Wolf to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.