The evidence is clear--action must be taken now to invest in Pennsylvania's infrastructure. Pennsylvania ranks first in the nation for the number of structurally deficient bridges. The Transportation Funding Advisory Commission reported in its August 2011 study "8,452 miles of highway have a poor IRI (International Roughness Index) rating and are in need of rehabilitation or possibly reconstruction. As roadways dete¬riorate they become less safe to travel and increase costs to drivers. More wear and tear is inflicted on vehicles, trip reliability decreases, and more costs result from delays." 1 The Pennsylvania State Transportation Advisory Committee issued a Transportation Funding Study in May 2010 recommending an immediate need for new funding of $3 billion for all transportation modes.
The lack of investment in Pennsylvania's infrastructure is a critical safety issue for the Pennsylvanians who regularly travel our roadways and bridges. The lack of investment in Pennsylvania's infrastructure is an economic development issue that places Pennsylvania at a competitive disadvantage to companies considering relocating to Pennsylvania or to those that are considering expansion. The lack of investment is a jobs issue affecting the highway construction industry and engineering firms that are scrambling for work. The lack of investment places greater strains on Pennsylvanians' household budgets due to repairs resulting from damaged roadways. The lack of investment will put greater financial strains on Pennsylvania's systems the longer investment is delayed.
Pat Vance, a Republican State Senator from Cumberland County, asked PENNDOT Secretary Barry Schoch during the Department of Transportation's 2012 Senate Appropriations' hearing, "Do we really need a mass tragedy of a bridge collapsing, is that the only way we're going to get action?"
Tom Corbett charged his Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC), a group with involvement from stakeholders throughout Pennsylvania, with developing recommendations to address the dire state of Pennsylvania's transportation system. The TFAC delivered its recommendations to the Governor and members of the General Assembly in August 2011 and, to date, the Governor has not taken action. The report makes clear that "If we do not take action to meet the transportation need: The future gap to fund transportation infrastructure will be substantially larger--more than doubling to $7.2 billion by 2020."
Investing in Pennsylvania's infrastructure has received bi-partisan support. Senator Jake Corman, Chairman of the Republican Appropriations Committee, introduced a legislation package based on recommendations from the TFAC. In late 2011, House Democrats introduced legislation that reforms the way in which Pennsylvania funds its transportation system. Not only has Tom Corbett not publicly supported the recommendations set forth by his own Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, but he has not expressed any public support for reforms that have been introduced in the Legislature.
Bob Latham, Executive Vice President of the Association of Pennsylvania Constructors, in a February 28, 2011 op-ed piece in the Patriot News wrote, "Nearly everyone agrees that the transportation system needs to be fixed, and an adequately funded transportation program would create 50,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, mostly in sectors other than highway construction. For these reasons, we are optimistic this issue is finally ripe for a lasting solution."
The American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania sent a letter to Tom Corbett expressing, "We are actually losing ground, losing the soundness of our transportation network, losing our competitive edge and more importantly losing jobs."
As Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale will:
*Urge the Governor to make investments in Pennsylvania's infrastructure to protect the safety of all Pennsylvanians.
*Urge the Governor to make investments in Pennsylvania's infrastructure to ensure all Pennsylvanians have safe, efficient and reliable access to education, jobs and healthcare.
*Urge the Governor to make investments in Pennsylvania's infrastructure to ensure a world-class transportation system necessary to support job creation and job retention efforts throughout the Commonwealth.
*Urge the Governor to support legislation as recommended by the TFAC to repeal the 20 year old ceiling on the Oil Company Franchise Tax (AWP). Legislation would require oil companies to pay their fair share and not pass additional costs onto the public.
*Urge the Governor to pursue other funding sources for the Pennsylvania State Police (the total of which has grown 66% from 2001-02 through 2011-12).
*Urge the Governor to pursue innovative and creative management and productivity initiatives to reduce costs that could be diverted to road, bridge and transit needs.
This is an issue that needs immediate and swift action and, as Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale will continue to work with the Commonwealth's stakeholders and legislative leaders to make critical and targeted investments in Pennsylvania's infrastructure. Eugene DePasquale will provide the leadership and determination to move the transportation agenda forward to benefit all Pennsylvanians.