WILKES-BARRE, June 1, 2012 – – Northeastern Pennsylvania state Sens. John Yudichak and John Blake today welcomed Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and Senate Democratic Appropriations Chairman Vince Hughes (D-Philadelphia) to the site of a stalled construction project in Luzerne County to announce the details of a $2.8 billion plan that would upgrade Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and create thousands of jobs.

“Our plan will not only put Pennsylvanians back to work, but it will provide the necessary funding to move forward on critical transportation projects like the South Valley Parkway project where we are standing today,” Yudichak said. “The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Plan will not only improve the quality and safety of our roads and bridges, but will create thousands of jobs and encourage business development.”

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The Senate Democrats’ “Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Plan” involves creative new solutions to leverage existing federal, state and private resources in support of $2.8 billion in new infrastructure investment.

At the core of the plan is the creation of a new tax incentive program that would fund $1.5 billion in water, sewer and public transit infrastructure improvements. The principal on the $1.5 billion in bonds would be paid from already earmarked shale tax revenues and local contributions for mass transit projects. The plan would also use federal GARVEE bonds to generate $1 billion to fund a short term transportation improvement plan.

“Our proposal is a fiscally responsible way to repair our infrastructure without overburdening future state budget or increasing taxes,” Blake said. “Pennsylvania – and especially Northeastern Pennsylvania – needs jobs. Investing in transportation and other public works infrastructure can provide them.”

Another facet of the plan would refocus $167 million now available through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) to make infrastructure investments for new commercial and industrial real estate developments. These can attract new businesses as well as support in-state business expansion while financing more small business loans and new venture capital incentives.

“Without raising any taxes, the Senate Democratic plan will create jobs and make an investment in the future of Pennsylvania by improving and upgrading our infrastructure,” Costa added. “This is a smart investment for the future of Pennsylvania and also a proven way to positively impact the state economy.”

Finally, the Senate Democratic infrastructure investment plan will sustain the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program to invest $60 million through our major academic research institutions for life science research and development.

“Senate Democrats understand that the clearest path to improving Pennsylvania’s economy is through targeted investment in our infrastructure,” Hughes said. “We have a real plan with clear, innovative solutions to leverage existing federal, state and private equity resources to address the dire needs of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure.”

Many other local business leaders and elected officials also participated in the news conference to lend their support to funding improvements to Pennsylvania’s infrastructure.

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