Mike Turzai’s idea to split the transportation funding bill out into separate bills for roads and transit sounds like trouble. It’s not that it couldn’t be done right – for instance, I could get behind a bill that reduces the state contribution but gives metros more tools to fund transit out of a regional tax base. The fact that transit funding seems to be permanently endangered in Harrisburg seems to me like a good reason to reduce metros’ dependence on state money.
Back in political reality, what’s more likely to happen is that House Republicans take most of the transportation revenue for the highway bill, and use the transit bill to starve transit even more without giving metros the tools they need to raise more revenue regionally.
What was really amazing about this article though is where Mike Turzai is when he’s making this statement:
“We want it focused on roads and bridges,” he said. “So many reforms have to be brought to mass transit that it needs to be disentangled. They need to be separate pieces.”
He’s saying this at a ribbon cutting for a fucking highway widening project!
It’s certainly true that the state’s mass transit systems require reforms beyond the immediate funding challenges. But the same is true for state spending on roads and highways, which are even more insulated from economic and cost considerations. The widened road Mike Turzai is standing in front of is a prime example of the sort of wasteful project that should never receive state money.
Tom Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission advocated abandoning Ed Rendell’s “fix it first” approach and pulled all kinds of boondoggles like this back onto the agenda. Another example is the hilarious plan to widen Route 22 in the Lehigh Valley, which is projected to cost as much as $320 million.
If this is the kind of stuff that the TFAC is recommending for funding, then lawmakers definitely do not need to find $2.5 billion for transportation.