Pa., N.J. Lawmakers Launch Effort To Rein In Delaware River Port Authority

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the B...

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night. First posted at: Brozzetti Gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Republican legislators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are planning a coordinated effort to change the Delaware River Port Authority and alter its federal charter.

Bills will be introduced in Harrisburg and Trenton to prohibit economic-development spending by the DRPA, give Pennsylvania’s governor the same veto authority over DRPA actions now held by New Jersey’s governor, and require state Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointments to the DRPA board in Pennsylvania, as is now done in New Jersey.

The bills would also:

- Require a two-thirds majority of the board to approve any toll increases on the DRPA’s four toll bridges;

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20140326_Pa___N_J__lawmakers_launch_effort_to_rein_in_DRPA.html#b3cTW5MXkkoRHgws.99

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Christie: ‘If I Was In The Senate Right Now, I’d Kill Myself’

English: , U.S. Attorney, Governor-elect of Ne...

English: , U.S. Attorney, Governor-elect of New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gov. Christie today blamed Republicans and Democrats for the government shutdown, saying “it’s irresponsible of both sides to have allowed this to get where it’s gotten.”

Asked during an editorial board meeting with The Philadelphia Inquirer what he would do if he were in the Senate right now, his immediate response was this: “If I was in the Senate right now, I’d kill myself.”

“This is why I’ve never had any interest in being in a legislative body,” he said. (It should be noted: In the 1990s Christie was a county freeholder, which is a legislator.)

He sees the situation in Washington as a failure in leadership, and a failure to achieve compromise.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/christie_chronicles/Christie-If-I-was-in-the-Senate-right-now-Id-kill-myself.html#SCuoK6yZzyy8AhU4.99

PA Senate Passes $2.5 Billion Transportation Funding Package

Four months after hearing Gov. Tom Corbett’s call for a transportation funding plan in his budget address to the Legislature, the Senate delivered one mightily.

By a 45-5 vote, the Senate today approved a transportation funding plan that not only raises the $1.8 billion by 2018 that Corbett wanted.  It goes $700 million beyond that.

The measure now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.  Its fate is uncertain in the House because of the cost implications on consumers.

All midstate senators voted in favor of the legislation.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/senate_passes_25_billion_trans.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Public Wants More Transit Funding, Officials Say

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amid state and federal wrangling over transportation funding, transit leaders meeting in Center City said growing public support should mean more money for trains, buses, and subways.

“The people of the nation are way ahead of some of their elected leaders,” Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said Monday, citing a new survey for the American Public Transportation Association that showed 74 percent of respondents supported using tax dollars to “create, expand and improve public transportation.”  That was up from 69 percent last year.

In Washington and Harrisburg, lawmakers are debating how to pay for mass transit as well as highways and bridges.  Transit agencies, which typically get at least half of their budgets from taxpayers, are lobbying for increases to replace outdated equipment and vehicles and to bring derelict systems into a state of good repair.

A vote is expected this week in the Pennsylvania state Senate on a transportation-funding bill that would increase the gas tax on wholesalers (who likely would pass it on to motorists at the pump), and raise most vehicle fees and fines for traffic violations.  The measure would produce about $2.5 billion in additional transportation funding after three years, according to its sponsor, Senate transportation chairman John Rafferty (R., Montgomery).

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130604_Public_wants_more_transit_funding__officials_contend.html#Ygr2fvsOhvgMWo0W.99

Pennsylvania Senate Highways Plan Would Raise Gas Prices

Editor’s note:  Really!  Because gas prices aren’t high enough already???

HARRISBURG – Spending on Pennsylvania’s highways, bridges and mass transit systems would get a big shot of new funding under a Senate plan unveiled Tuesday that would raise the money by increasing motorist fees and wholesale gas taxes – bumping prices at the pump as much a quarter a gallon.

The $2.5 billion plan by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, is more ambitious and expensive than the proposal Gov. Tom Corbett advanced in January. The increase is nearly 50 percent of the $5.3 billion that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation currently spends on highways, bridges and transit.

Rafferty warned that the state’s bridges and highways are in dire need of repair, and contended that the plan would simply update taxes and fees to reflect inflation after going unchanged since at least the 1990s while giving the state’s economy a big boost.

“This is a sustainable funding plan,” Rafferty told reporters at a news conference where he was backed by dozens of supportive lawmakers and representatives of transportation-minded groups. “This is not a one-shot deal. This is a significant piece of change that will move Pennsylvania forward.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=470435

House, Senate Approve ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Bill

Official portrait of United States House Speak...

Official portrait of United States House Speaker (R-Ohio). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Well it’s about damn time!

WASHINGTON — Congress’ excruciating, extraordinary New Year’s Day approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on.  It also prevents House Republicans from facing blame for blocking tax cuts for most American households, though most GOP lawmakers parted ways with Speaker John Boehner and opposed the measure.

Passage also lays the groundwork for future battles between the two sides over federal spending and debt.

Capping a holiday season political spectacle that featured enough high and low notes for a Broadway musical, the GOP-run House voted final approval for the measure by 257-167 late Tuesday.  That came after the Democratic-led Senate used a wee-hours 89-8 roll call to assent to the bill, belying the partisan brinkmanship that colored much of the path to the final deal.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=440254

House Republicans Balk At Deal; Fiscal Cliff Coming

WASHINGTON — Last-minute efforts to step back from the “fiscal cliff” ran into trouble on Tuesday as Republicans in the House of Representatives balked at a deal that would prevent Washington from pushing the world’s biggest economy into a recession.

House Republicans complained that a bill passed by the Senate in a late-night show of unity to prevent a budget crisis contained tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans but no spending cuts.  Some conservatives sought to change the bill to add cuts.

That would set up a high-stakes showdown between the two chambers and risk a stinging rebuke from financial markets that are due to open in Asia in a few hours.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-fiscal-cliff-reuters-20130101,0,6257078.story

Bipartisan Effort Shapes Action On City Distress Issues

HARRISBURG – While the city of Scranton struggles daily with cash-flow problems, key state lawmakers see any unveiling of comprehensive legislative proposals to help fiscally distressed cities as being months away.

A rollout of bills is anticipated early next year with the start of the new legislative session, said Sen. John Eichelberger, R-30, Hollidaysburg, chairman of the Senate Local Government Committee.

A bipartisan group in the Senate and House is working on a host of related issues, including an overhaul of the Act 47 program for fiscally distressed municipalities, municipal pension benefits, collective bargaining for public employees and the role of nonprofit institutions clustered in cities.

Since four legislative committees held joint hearings last fall on the future of Act 47, lawmakers involved in the effort to find solutions to the problems cities face with eroding tax bases and increased demand for services have emphasized its bipartisan nature.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/bipartisan-effort-shapes-action-on-city-distress-issues-1.1357868

Extra Money For Distressed Schools Proposed In Bill

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sixteen financially distressed school districts across Pennsylvania, including the Reading School District, could soon be getting a bit of extra help.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a school funding bill Friday that includes extra money for school districts facing financial disasters.

The bill was expected to be considered by the full Senate today. If approved, it would mean an extra $3.7 million for Reading.

Reading is the only Berks County school that would qualify for extra funds.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396446

Speaker Boehner Succumbs On Tax Deal

Official portrait of United States House Speak...

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday bowed to pressure from both within and outside his party and agreed to a short-term deal to extend a payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans.

In what could be an end to a toxic stalemate, Boehner informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he will set a vote in the House on a Senate-passed two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, a Democratic leadership aide said.

Now comes the hard part – getting his often rebellious caucus to follow his lead. He is expected to brief members of his caucus later on Thursday, according to one lawmaker’s office.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/sns-rt-us-usa-taxestre7b827k-20111209,0,557603.story