New Poll Shows Overwhelming Public Support For Restore PA Infrastructure Plan; When Will It Translate Into Legislative Votes?
The question asked by the pollster even highlighted needed environmental infrastructure improvements first-- “Restore Pennsylvania is a plan proposed by the governor to help local communities improve stormwater management to reduce flooding, eliminate blight, expand broadband access, and address other local infrastructure needs.”
On June 5, the $4.5 billion Restore Pennsylvania Infrastructure Plan legislation was introduced with strong bipartisan support as Senate Bill 725, sponsored by Sen. Yudichak and Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware) with 25 cosponsors (22 Democrats, 3 Republicans) and House Bill 1585, sponsored by Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) and Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery), with 99 cosponsors [83 Democrats, 16 Republicans].
There are nearly enough co-sponsors to pass the bill in the House and Senate. It takes 102 votes for a bill to pass the House and 26 in the Senate, if Republican leadership in the Senate and House allow a vote.
For an overview of the proposed infrastructure plan, read the Restore Pennsylvania Infrastructure Plan article.
But this broad support has not translated into legislative district by district pressure on House and Senate members to actually vote for an infrastructure improvement plan or for any real increase in green infrastructure and environmental restoration funding…. Yet.
Senate Republican Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) said in June the Senate may address it in the Fall, “at the earliest.”
“It’s not been vetted yet, and we’re certainly not going to create a revenue source that could be a WAM [walking around money] platform, without knowing how this money is going to be spent,” Sen. Corman said.
The same poll asked voters what they think is the most important problem facing Pennsylvania today. The Environment ranked 9th on that list at 2 percent, interestingly it is tied with values and morals, global events and above energy issues and gasoline prices (1 percent).
Taxes (16 percent), education (13 percent), government/politicians (12 percent), unemployment (12 percent) and crime, drugs, violence, guns (8 percent) are the top 5 worries
One option several Republican Senators are ready to introduce is authorizing more natural gas drilling on DCNR’s State Forest lands, however, that proposal is an empty promise. It was introduced June 5 as Senate Bill 716 (Bartolotta-R-Washington).
In a public statement headlined “Gov. Wolf’s Restore PA Plan Would More Likely Destroy PA,” House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) called the plan “a $4.5 billion, debt-financed slush fund to be allocated at the whim of a new government board and paid for by yet another job-killing tax on the natural gas production industry.”
Speaker Turzai said a better solution is to adopt the “Energize PA” package of taxpayer funded natural gas use subsidies and create a new political commission to take over DEP’s job of setting environmental standards and making individual permit decisions.
The House is scheduled back in voting session September 17 and the Senate on September 23. We’ll see what happens then.
Related Article This Week:
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Op-Ed: Conservation Efforts Lose Out In State Budget - Len Lichvar
Stormwater Fees Hit DuBoistown In Lycoming County [Because State Doesn’t Do Its Share]
[Posted: August 11, 2019]
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