Dems to gov: Get it in gear

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

From the Pennsylvania House Democratic caucus comes a message urging Gov. Tom Corbett to break his long silence and put forth a transportation funding plan:

With unemployment shooting upward across Pennsylvania, state House Democratic leaders called for Gov. Tom Corbett to end his inaction and support a long-term, comprehensive plan to address the state's crumbling roads, bridges and mass transit systems.

The seven-member House Democratic Caucus leadership team wrote to Corbett on Wednesday, urging him to recognize the transportation crisis facing Pennsylvania, and to act swiftly to address it.

"Governor, the time has come for you to produce your plan for a long-term, comprehensive and sustainable transportation funding solution," wrote the Democratic leaders. "We urge you to send the General Assembly your transportation funding plan as soon as possible. We cannot afford half-measures, nor can we afford to wait for yet another commission to study the issue."

It has been two months since Corbett's own Transportation Funding Advisory Commission issued its report to him, but the governor has observed 60 days of silence regarding the panel's recommendations. During that same period, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate rose from 7.6 percent to 8.2 percent.

Democratic leaders said the recent flooding caused by the remnants of two tropical storms did more than just displace thousands of Pennsylvanians from their homes and businesses. It also put more people out of work and worsened the already dire condition of Pennsylvania roads, bridges and transit systems.

"With a nation-leading 5,200 structurally deficient state-maintained bridges and more than 7,000 miles of state-maintained roads in 'very poor' condition, we didn't need a wake-up call to tell us that Pennsylvania's transportation system is in dire straits," the Democratic leaders wrote. "Nevertheless, we got one."

Despite that wake-up call, the House Democrats noted that Corbett has yet to offer any solutions to Pennsylvania's transportation crisis and his transportation secretary this week said the governor may defer action indefinitely. With only 24 legislative session days currently scheduled before the end of 2011, time is running short to get a solution accomplished this year.

The House Democratic leaders asked Corbett to reorganize his legislative agenda to make solving the transportation crisis No. 1 on his priority list.

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