The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 24, 2013

State eyes transportation road map

HARRISBURG — A transportation plan authored by state House Republicans would spend almost $7 billion less in the first five years than a competing plan put forth by Republicans in the Senate.

An amendment spelling out the House version of the transportation plan will be added during a committee meeting today. House Republicans intend to roll out increases in an oil company franchise tax over 10 years instead of the five-year period proposed by the governor. The Senate bill raised the wholesale tax over three years, accelerating the increase in funding for roadwork.

Lifting the cap is a controversial but crucial component of all three plans because it generates most of the money needed for road and bridge repairs. Many rural lawmakers are hesitant to endorse the strategy because it’s expected to lead to an increase of at least 25 cents a gallon in the price of gas.

The House GOP transportation plan eventually would spend more than Gov. Tom Corbett had originally proposed, but by taking twice as long to get to the maximum spending, Democrats say the plan defers millions in investment.

In the first year, the House Republican measure would add only $200 million in new spending on roads and bridges, less than half the amount proposed by Corbett.

There are a couple other key differences in the House amendment compared to the original Senate bill on which it’s based. The House legislation adds a modest form of prevailing wage reform and eliminates a Senate bid to generate $300 million a year by adding special fees on moving violations.

“This is a more responsible plan,” said Stephen Miskin, spokesman for the House Republican caucus.

Rep. Fred Keller, R-Union, a proponent of prevailing wage reform, said the House transportation plan only undoes a fairly recent rule change regarding whether road maintenance work ought to be subjected to rules regarding worker pay on government projects.

“It’s not as much as we want,” Keller said. “But it’s a start.”

Keller added that he is not sure how the 10-year rollout spelled out by House Republicans would impact efforts to build a $558 million thruway in his district.

“We were told that as long as PennDOT got as much funding as the governor’s plan, it would happen,” he said. “I would say that since we are getting the same amount, just over a longer period of time, that it would be the same. But I’m not sure. That’s a dialogue that has to happen.”

After 10 years, the House Republican measure would spend $1.9 billion a year, including almost $1.7 billion a year on roads and bridges. Corbett has proposed spending $1.1 billion a year on roads and bridges as part of $1.44 billion per year added to the state’s transportation spending.  But the governor’s plan would hit full stride by 2017-18.

Democrats expressed outrage at the 11th-hour changes and said that no Democrat will vote for the House plan in the transportation committee or in the full House.

“(House Republicans) are trying to blow it up,” said Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton.

Rep. Mike McGeehan, D-Philadelphia, said that the Senate version of transportation spending was supported by almost everyone and reflected the type of investment that had been recognized over three years of studying the issue.

 “We now get an amount out of left field,” McGeehan said. “This is a radical departure.”

Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, sits on the transportation committee. Longietti didn’t receive any information about the House Republican amendment until Sunday evening.

Longietti said he wouldn’t have supported Senate Bill 1 and he certainly doesn’t support the House version of the legislation. Longietti said that he doesn’t believe his legislative district stands to benefit enough to justify supporting something that will increase gas prices.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • District Deaths April 21, 2014

    April 20, 2014

  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads