HARRISBURG – November 20, 2013 – Senator Vincent Hughes issued the following statement on the passage of House Bill 1060:
“I am pleased today that the Pennsylvania Senate passed a major transportation funding package and has now sent that amended bill to members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for concurrence. The bill is imperfect, but it does contain more than $2.4 billion annually within five years in new funding to fix our crumbling roads, bridges, and public transportation throughout Pennsylvania. It is also a major job creation initiative that will put over 80,000 people to work. This money is desperately needed to repair our crumbling infrastructure, protect public safety and create jobs throughout the Commonwealth.
One of the biggest achievements is the permanent funding for public transportation, which will be nearly $500 million annually within a five year period. This solves the problem of funding for mass transit for the next ten years and ends the instability that has often plagued our public transportation systems. It is especially good news for SEPTA, which has repeatedly indicated that additional funding is needed to keep the system functioning.
I must also express my outrage at the process by which this bill passed. Senate Democrats prepared an amendment that would strip the prevailing wage language from the bill. Republicans resorted to a rarely used parliamentary maneuver to stop a vote on our proposed changes.
The bill should not have included a provision to change the prevailing wage law, which undermines the wages paid to construction workers who are employed on public projects. It is simply not right to include such a controversial issue as part of a transportation funding plan. The issue of prevailing wage should have been debated separately and not made part of the transportation funding bill. That is not how important legislation should be decided by the Pennsylvania Senate.
State Senator Vincent Hughes represents the 7th Senatorial District and is the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.