Budget Repeat: Gov. Wolf Vows To Continue His Fight For Restore PA Infrastructure, Environmental Funding Proposal
On January 28, Gov. Tom Wolf vowed to continue his fight to fund Pennsylvania’s critical infrastructure needs with Restore Pennsylvania.
First unveiled as part of last year’s budget, the bipartisan proposal is still the only plan presented in the Commonwealth that can aggressively fund broadband, flooding, recreation, environmental restoration and other critical infrastructure projects.
“Restore Pennsylvania would make $4.5 billion in critical infrastructure investments. It would repair rural roads, clean up brownfields, remove blight, increase broadband access, reduce flood risk, and so much more,” said Gov. Wolf. “There’s been a lot of talk over the last year about how much we need infrastructure funding, but no viable plan has emerged – except Restore Pennsylvania.”
Restore Pennsylvania would invest $4.5 billion in high-impact infrastructure projects that would improve the quality of life across the Commonwealth. Guided by feedback on the infrastructure needs of Pennsylvania’s communities, Restore Pennsylvania was introduced in 2019 with strong bipartisan support.
Since then, Governor Wolf and his administration have made close to 100 stops in communities across the state, garnering official endorsements from more than 60 stakeholders and municipal leaders, and verbal support from hundreds more.
“One year ago, I unveiled my Restore Pennsylvania proposal,” said Gov. Wolf. “Since then, we’ve talked a lot about how desperately communities need infrastructure funding, but the proposal to create Restore Pennsylvania has not moved in the legislature.”
Funded through a commonsense severance tax on natural gas, the Restore Pennsylvania would support high speed internet infrastructure and provide communities with financial resources to encourage economic growth while reducing the blight that causes health and safety concerns and lowers property values.
“Over the past year, we have heard from countless Pennsylvanians from municipalities across the Commonwealth-- communities devastated by blight and lacking access to critical communication infrastructure,” said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin. “These challenges impact millions of people across the commonwealth, threatening their health, safety, and quality of life. The need to pass this commonsense proposal is greater than ever.”
Restore Pennsylvania will also help towns and cities prepare for flooding and other severe weather, and establish a disaster relief fund to help survivors with repairs that are not covered by insurance or federal disaster loans or grants.
“In 2019 we unfortunately did not get any federal disaster declarations to provide grants to help pay for infrastructure damages,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “The need for disaster assistance remains as urgent as ever.”
Infrastructure improvements to develop flood control systems and implement pollution reduction plans for stormwater management would help the more than 700 municipalities that must comply with unfunded federal regulations. Restore Pennsylvania would help local leaders to work collaboratively to make improvements.
Restore Pennsylvania would also help alleviate pollution threats from legacy contamination. Abandoned oil and gas wells, acid mine discharge, and other legacy pollution presents enormous challenges to communities and residents.
“Restore Pennsylvania would be a solution to restoring a lot of the impacts of our legacy pollution,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “This pollution comes from a variety of sources, including acid mine discharge and lack of stormwater infrastructure, and we need to invest in a solution that will help our communities now and in the future. There are more than 19,000 miles of streams and rivers in Pennsylvania that are impaired by pollution, and local communities are bearing the brunt of this burden.”
State forests and parks, as well as county and local outdoor recreation areas would also benefit from Restore Pennsylvania funding in order to maintain facilities that are both appealing to and safe for visitors.
“In 2019, DCNR officials traveled throughout the state, visiting a total of 29 state parks and forest districts, local parks, and trails to highlight the need for Restore Pennsylvania funding,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “At the outset of those visits, the maintenance and infrastructure backlog facing just our state park and forest systems was estimated at $1 billon. Since then, our infrastructure costs have increased $50 million due to escalating construction costs, deterioration and storm floods and other damage.”
Keeping the impact fee in place, Restore Pennsylvania will provide resources to communities that disproportionately receive impact fee funding, allowing all municipalities to complete much-needed infrastructure projects and improving the quality of life for Pennsylvanians in every corner of the Commonwealth.
Encompassing new and expanded programs to address priority infrastructure areas, Restore Pennsylvania projects will be driven by local input about local needs. Projects identified by local stakeholders will be evaluated through a competitive process to ensure that high-priority, high-impact projects are funded and needs across Pennsylvania are met.
Visit the Restore Pennsylvania webpage to learn more.
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[Posted: January 28, 2020]
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