Transportation Plan Calls For $4.7 Billion For Southwestern Pennsylvania

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A draft plan for improvements to the region’s transportation system envisions $4.7 billion in spending in the 10 counties of southwestern Pennsylvania in the next four years, a 52 percent increase from the current four-year plan.

The plan for fiscal years 2015 through 2018 signals a reversal of years of diminished spending on infrastructure and public transit, bolstered by the funding bill that the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett enacted last fall. The draft Transportation Improvement Plan was released last week by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, a regional planning agency.

“From my perspective, we were able to add significant projects that were simply unaffordable in the last TIP update,” said Dan Cessna, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s district executive for Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties.

Among them is a $79 million rehabilitation of the Liberty Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh, which at present is weight-restricted and rated structurally deficient, meaning its components are deteriorated but not yet unsafe. Numerous smaller bridge and paving projects were added as well, he said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/frontpage/2014/06/23/Plan-calls-for-boost-for-southwestern-Pa-transportation/stories/201406230085#ixzz35UedvrMx

Wolf vs. Corbett: 5 Issues They’ll Tussle Over Between Now And November

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The campaigns for Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf traded shots over education funding, natural gas drilling and other issues before Wolf won his party’s nomination.

Voters can expect a lot more of that before Nov. 4.

“I think it’s going to be a long, grueling contest, in which both candidates are going to have to defend an awful lot about their records,” said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

Corbett has had lower approval ratings than Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell had at the same points in their first terms. In a January poll from Franklin & Marshall College, 23 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters said Corbett was doing an “excellent” or “good” job as governor.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_25828929/wolf-v-corbett-5-issues-theyll-tussle-over

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11 State Game Lands In NEPA Have Gas Leases

Counties constituting the Endless Mountains Re...

Counties constituting the Endless Mountains Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gas leases on state game lands in Bradford and Susquehanna counties have earned the Pennsylvania Game Commission $32 million in signing bonuses since 2008.

The Game Commission signed leases on 11 parcels of game land in the two counties. No leases have been signed on game lands in Wyoming and Luzerne counties. Royalties vary from 20 to almost 29 percent. Some gas companies are deducting the costs of moving and marketing the gas from royalty payments, the same as they do for private leaseholders.

Mike DiMatteo, who oversees oil and gas development on game lands as chief of the commission’s division of environmental planning and habitat protection, confirmed that gas companies have deducted post-production costs from royalty payments, although never enough to send the Game Commission a royalty statement with a negative balance, as some private landowners have reported.

The practice has drawn anger even from Republicans supportive of the industry, including Gov. Tom Corbett and state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-23, Williamsport. Both named Chesapeake Energy Corp. as a major offender.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/11-game-lands-in-nepa-have-gas-leases-1.1679176

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Corbett: Coal Is Working

States and the energy industry should work together to improve carbon-capturing technology to save coal-burning power plants and coal-related jobs threatened by federal clean air regulations, Gov. Tom Corbett said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a coal industry conference at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County, the Shaler Republican joined a chorus of voices complaining that environmental regulations will push coal out as an electricity source.

“If you take one energy source out of the mix, you just know the cost of electricity will go up,” Corbett told about 100 people at the Nemacolin Energy Institute gathering.

He later announced he would work with Wyoming Gov. Matthew H. Mead and other coal-producing states on research and eventually build a joint testing center for affordable emission-control technology.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/5983934-74/coal-power-corbett#ixzz2zlWO7oig
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Report: Pennsylvania Forests Impacted By Drilling

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A small portion of Pennsylvania state forest land has been impacted by shale gas drilling, but many questions remain about how to manage the politically sensitive issue that is opposed by many residents, according to a new report.

The 268-page Department of Conservation and Natural Resources report issued this week concluded that “shale-gas production on state forest lands is neither benign nor catastrophic” and that there are clearly impacts and trade-offs.

“The question is what trade-offs are acceptable,” the report said.

The report found that about 1,486 acres of forest have been converted to various types of drilling-related development since 2008, including roads, well pads, and pipelines, out of about 2.2 million acres in the state forest system. That gas development resulted in 191 infrastructure pads and 104 miles of pipelines.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/pennsylvania/report-pennsylvania-forests-impacted-by-drilling/article_c98b8d73-66b5-52b5-b9f0-149d8d97c8a0.html

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Lackawanna State Forest To Grow By 3,000 Acres

Locator Map of Lackawanna State Forest, Pennsy...

Locator Map of Lackawanna State Forest, Pennsylvania, United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CONYNGHAM TOWNSHIP, PA — When state Sen. John Yudichak and state Rep. Gerald Mullery were growing up, they used to play in the shadow of the Avondale Mine area and the Plymouth flats.

The two legislators, both 43 and friends since boyhood, are familiar with the landscape that Friday became part of the Enhance Penn’s Woods project — a two-year, more than $200 million initiative launched by Gov. Tom Corbett to repair and improve Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests.

“John and I have the coal chips in our knees to prove it,” Mullery, D-Newport Township, said. “And now we’re here today to preserve and reclaim mine-scarred land so our children and grandchildren will have pristine and maintained natural areas to enjoy.”

At a chilly news conference Friday on the banks of the Susquehanna River, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti announced the state will add more than 3,000 acres to the Lackawanna State Forest with the acquisition of the Mocanaqua tract in Conyngham, Newport and Slocum townships.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1299045/Lackawanna-State-Forest-to-grow-by-3000-acres

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Gov. Corbett Announces Hundreds Of Additional Projects Due To Transportation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – Gov. Tom Corbett today outlined more than 250 projects that will start work this year due to the state’s new transportation plan.

At least $2.1 billion will be invested into the state’s highway and bridge network — about $600 million more than what would have been available without the transportation bill Corbett signed last fall. Overall, more than 900 projects will get underway this year.

“This plan is creating safer roads, bridges and transit systems while at the same time saving 12,000 jobs and creating 50,000 new ones over the next five years – 18,000 jobs are expected to be created this year alone.” Corbett said. “We are putting these transportation investments to work quickly as we strive to build a stronger Pennsylvania both now and in the future.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1301350/Gov.-Corbett-announces-hundreds-of-additional-projects-due-to-transportation-plan

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Tom Wolf, Candidate For Governor, Speaks At His Pottstown Alma Mater

POTTSTOWN, PA — Hill School alumnus and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf was on campus Saturday morning.

Wolf, a 1967 graduate, was invited to be a part of the school’s year-long speakers series focusing on integrity — the theme for 2013-2014 academic year.

Speaking to a packed house in the Center For The Arts building, Wolf used several abstract ideas to convey how integrity is important in life because, “the real world is the right world.”

He told students that “fairness, inclusion, trust and hope,” were all important in the real world and he came to that realization through his years in business, academia and volunteering with the Peace Corps.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140329/tom-wolf-candidate-for-governor-speaks-at-his-pottstown-alma-mater

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Report: Absence Of School Funding Formula In PA Costs Pottstown $5 Million A Year

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Borough property owners would be off the hook for generating more than $5 million in school funding this year if the state funding formula abandoned by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2010 were still in place, according to a report.

Further, as a result of that formula’s absence in calculating state education funding, Pottstown has lost more state aid in the past few years than almost any other district in Montgomery County, the report found.

At $2.5 million, only Norristown schools lost more in the last three years than the $1.5 million in state funding Pottstown has lost since 2010-11, the study found.

In an attempt to reverse the problems highlighted in that study, the Pottstown School Board on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Harrisburg to establish “a fair and equitable school funding formula.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140328/report-absence-of-school-funding-formula-in-pa-costs-pottstown-5-million-a-year

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Many Fees For Pennsylvania Vehicles Set To rise On April 1

Several state vehicle-related fees will increase April 1 for the first time in 17 years, with a second group of fees slated to rise July 1.

The increases are mandated by Act 89, the transportation funding legislation that was approved by the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall.

“It’s important to note that Act 89 represents an investment in Pennsylvania’s future: increasing public safety, driving commerce, creating jobs and providing reliable funding for our transportation needs without leaving the bill to our future generations,” Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1277003/Many-fees-for-Pa.-vehicles-set-to-rise-on-April-1

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Pennsylvania Community College Leaders Make Funding Case In Harrisburg

Harrisburg, PA — Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) President Dr. Karen A. Stout testified before the Pa. House Appropriations Committee in Harrisburg on Feb. 20 on the issue of community college funding for Fiscal Year 2014-15. She joined Pa. Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC) President and CEO Elizabeth A. Bolden and Butler County Community College President Dr. Nick Neupauer, who also serves as PACCC’s Board Chairman.

Together the three leaders testified about the critical need for increased operating and capital funding for the Commonwealth’s 14 community colleges. Governor Corbett’s proposed FY 14-15 budget does not include any increase in the community college operating appropriation. If approved, this will be the fourth consecutive year of flat funding in operating following a 10 percent funding cut five years ago. Allowing for inflation, the recommended appropriation is $12 million below the necessary level.

During her testimony, Dr. Stout revealed that, if the proposed budget is passed, MCCC will receive less in operating dollars in FY 14-15 than eight years ago.

“The operating efficiencies used to manage these cuts have already been implemented, and gains from them already realized and exhausted,” she said in her testimony. “Even modest tuition increases are difficult for our students to manage. Last year, we deregistered more than 2,500 students for non-payment. Approximately half return to us at some point, but half are shut out of higher education, even with Pell and PHEAA grants.”

Three MCCC students – Octavia Beyah, Tyler Tucker and Elizabeth Waddell – accompanied Dr. Stout to Harrisburg to lend their support to Pennsylvania’s community colleges.

Beyah, a first-generation college student, is funding her own education. She started her journey at a four-year university, but reverse transferred to MCCC to graduate without debt. Likewise, Tucker chose to attend MCCC to balance life and work to avoid early debt; she aspires to be an appellate court judge. And Waddell comes from a single parent household and acknowledges that education tends to go on the “back burner” when living paycheck to paycheck.

“Students like Octavia, Tyler and Elizabeth build the economic and civic capacity of our community, one dream fulfilled at a time,” shared Dr. Stout in her testimony.

Stout went on to share how the economic impact of MCCC’s students extends to all Pennsylvania residents. For example, taxpayers, see a return rate of 7.2 percent on their investment, and every one dollar of state and local tax money invested in the College yields a cumulative $21.60 in benefits that accrue to all Pennsylvania residents in terms of added taxable income and avoided social costs.

“Fifty years ago, a group of visionary State and local leaders from across the Commonwealth passed the Community College Act, and with it, a commitment to invest in the hopes, dreams and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to access affordable, high quality, transfer education and workforce training programs that could lead them into the middle class and thus build the quality of life and civic development and economic competitiveness of Pennsylvania. Over these 50 years, nearly 400,000 Montgomery County residents have benefitted from access to these programs. The ripple effect of those attending – on our community – is multi-generational,” shared Dr. Stout.

In addition to restoring operating funds, Bolden and PACCC asked the House Appropriations Committee for capital funding to be increased in order to address the $726 million in documented infrastructure improvements for the State’s 14 community colleges over the next five years.  As it stands now, the Governor’s proposed budget calls for a $1 million cut in capital.

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett Announces 2014-2015 Budget Plan, Targets Education

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA — Gov. Tom Corbett gave his annual budget address Tuesday, outlining a plan for 2014-2015 that seeks to put a priority on education.

“Education is the largest single item in my budget,” Corbett said. “The increase I propose would bring direct state support of public education to $10.1 billion, more than 40 percent of state spending.”

The increase will bring the total of additional education funding for the past three years to $1.2 billion, the governor said.

Corbett directly addressed the cuts to education funding which opponents have criticized since Corbett took office in 2011. The cuts were necessary to grappled with the decreasing federal stimulus package that coincided with the 2008 recession, he said.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140204/pennsylvania-gov-tom-corbett-announces-2014-2015-budget-plan-targets-education

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Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski To Withdraw From Pennsylvania Governor Race, Source Says

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski plans to drop out of the race for Pennsylvania governor, according to a source.

Pawlowski, a Democrat who had been seeking to challenge Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett, will withdraw from the race Monday and endorse Treasurer Rob McCord, the source said.

Mike Fleck, Pawlowski’s campaign manager, declined to comment except to say Pawlowski would hold a news conference 11 a.m. Monday to discuss the governor’s race.

Pawlowski did not immediately respond to a phone call for comment tonight.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/elections/index.ssf/2014/01/allentown_mayor_ed_pawlowski_t.html

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Legislator Wants Action On Mine Fires

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OLYPHANT, PA — Coal heated up the Lackawanna and Wyoming valleys’ job market decades ago, and today it’s still making the region hot as no fewer than eight underground mine fires are burning from Carbondale to Newport Township.

The issue has not been taken seriously enough by the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to Rep. Kevin Haggerty, D-Dunmore, and officials in Olyphant, where one of the fires has been burning for nearly a decade.

During a public meeting Haggerty organized in Olyphant on Thursday, he said he has written a letter to Gov. Tom Corbett urging him to declare Luzerne and Lackawanna counties “disaster areas” so federal and state funding could be freed up to help extinguish the fires.

Three of those fires, all in Luzerne County, are designated as serious by the state Department of Environmental Protection, meaning occupied structures are less than 1,000 feet away. The other five are classified as moderate, meaning occupied structures are at least 1,000 feet away.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1156029/Legislator-wants-action-on-mine-fires

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Westmoreland County Will Ask For $1 Million From State To Raze Monsour Medical Center

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Westmoreland County will ask the state for $1 million to pay for demolition of the former Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette, which officials say has deteriorated to the point it poses a hazard for pedestrians and motorists.

Jason Rigone, executive director of the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp., will ask the county commissioners on Thursday to approve a business plan that will be submitted to the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program in Harrisburg by the Feb. 7 deadline.

The program is highly competitive. Last year, Gov. Tom Corbett approved 58 projects totaling $133 million across the state.

“It will be competitive going in for Monsour, but I think the state sees Monsour as a priority,” Rigone said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/5465027-74/county-million-monsour#ixzz2rKuPVrIl
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Lancaster Is One Of Two Cities Tapped By Pa. For New CRIZ Economic Development Program

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Within a year, Lancaster city could see the first funding available under a new state program expected to spur economic development.

Gov. Tom Corbett announced Tuesday afternoon that Lancaster and Bethlehem are the first two cities selected for City Revitalization and Improvement Zones.

Lancaster’s application, submitted late last month, promised the program could stimulate $210 million in new investment during its first phase.

“With First Fridays, the burgeoning arts district, new shops and restaurants, there is a success here on which we can build,” state Sen. Lloyd Smucker said Tuesday at a hastily arranged press conference.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/937842_Lancaster-is-one-of-two-cities-tapped-by-Pa–for-new-CRIZ-economic-development-program-.html#ixzz2p0UKjTqW

Companies Honored At Best Places To Work In PA Event

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LANCASTER, PA – An investment company and an insurance brokerage firm were named the top two “Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania” for 2013 at the awards ceremony held here this evening.

Edward Jones of Lemoyne, Cumberland County, and the Philadelphia-based insurance brokerage firm, The Graham Company, topped the list for the large- and small/medium-sized categories, respectively.

Team Pennsylvania Foundation joined the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Central Penn Business Journal in announcing Pennsylvania’s 100 Best Places to Work at the Lancaster County Convention Center.

Governor Tom Corbett attended the event, offering brief comments that celebrated the companies and their employees who made the Best Places to Work list. The governor also personally congratulated each winning company as they came forward to receive their award.

To see the entire list and read the rest of the article, click here: http://teampa.com/2013/12/2013-best-places-to-work-in-pa-winners-announced/

Sallie Mae To Add 300 To Hanover Township Center

English: Map of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania h...

English: Map of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania highlighting Hanover Township (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HANOVER TWP. — Sallie Mae will add an additional close to 300 people to its workforce at its loan servicing center in the Hanover Industrial Estates over the next two years.

The announcement was made this afternoon by Sallie Mae CEO John (Jack) F. Remondi, who was joined at the Hanover Township center by Gov. Tom Corbett.

“Pennsylvania is open for business. We are actively working with companies like Sallie Mae to help them create family sustaining jobs throughout Pennsylvania, and I welcome Sallie Mae’s continued investment in our commonwealth and its greatest asset - our people,” Corbett said.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1035482/Sallie-Mae-to-add-300-to-Hanover-Township-center

Some Pennsylvania Highways Will See 70 Mph Speed Limits Next Summer

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The billions of dollars for road projects in the new state transportation law isn’t the only factor that could speed up traffic on Pennsylvania highways.

Deep in the details of the new law is a provision raising the state’s maximum speed limit to 70 mph. Some roads could see higher speed limits by next summer, PennDOT said.

Speed limits will not automatically jump around the state. But PennDOT and Pennsylvania Turnpike officials now have the option to increase the limits on a case-by-case basis.
The agencies must study safety and traffic on the roads to determine if they can accommodate a higher limit.

“It’s probably going to take at least six months to do this,” said Rich Kirkpatrick, acting PennDOT press secretary. “Drivers will not likely see any changes before the end of June.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article/20131206/NEWS/312069925/1052#.UqI3c_SgnuI

With House Passage, All Are Aboard State Transportation Bill

Pennsylvania state map county outlines

Pennsylvania state map county outlines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Billions in new taxes and spending for roads, bridges and mass transit in Pennsylvania comfortably cleared a final legislative hurdle Thursday with a bipartisan vote to send a long-stalled bill to the governor.

The state House voted 113-85 to tax gasoline and raise motorist fees over five years to generate at least $2.3 billion in annual additional funding.

Gov. Tom Corbett said in brief remarks at an appearance with a few dozen legislators that he perceived an urgent need to address transportation infrastructure after taking office three years ago.

He said passage of the vote showed leadership and mentioned concerns about public safety several times.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519891