State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

House vote on transportation unlikely 'til November

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 22, 2013 6:08 PM
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A transportation funding bill isn't expected to come up for a vote in the state House until November at the earliest.

Word came Tuesday from the state House's top Republican, Speaker Sam Smith, that talks are still in progress on a proposal to generate additional revenue for roads, bridges, mass transit, and more.

When asked if he's optimistic the bill will get a House vote next month, Smith said he doesn't know.

"I can't answer," said Smith. "We're just going to plow ahead and see where it goes."

The state Senate passed a two-point-five billion dollar transportation funding plan in May, but talks on the measure sputtered and stopped in the House before summer.The only thing reviving them was a suggestion to secure concessions from the trade unions pushing for infrastructure funding on the state's prevailing wage law.

The proposed changes would bring down the pay for contractors on certain public works projects in an effort to woo Republican votes. Smith said unions are still divided on that offering, though, which could cost Democratic votes.

"The House Democrats continue to say 'but we can't support the prevailing wage,' unless the unions kind of give them a green light," Smith said. He said the only way forward for a bill in the House would be one that includes prevailing wage law changes.

In the meantime, Republican and Democratic legislative leaders are discussing the details of a roughly two-point-two billion dollar funding bill. Even so, Smith said he's not sure if that means a deal is within reach.

"Everybody's still talking," he said. "So, you know, far be it for me to stop that.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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