June 4, 2020
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Governor Tom Wolf (D) (seen above) is renewing an effort to pass a $4.5 billion state-funded infrastructure bill entitled Restore Pennsylvania; a broad package that would fund everything from rural road repairs and broadband installation to brownfield clean-up that he originally introduced in 2019.

[Above photo via the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office.]

“There’s been a lot of talk over the last year about how much we need infrastructure funding, but no viable plan has emerged – except Restore Pennsylvania,” the governor said in a statement on January 28. “Since then, we’ve talked a lot about how desperately communities need infrastructure funding, but the proposal to create Restore Pennsylvania has not moved in the legislature.”

Gov. Wolf. Photo by the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office.

Gov. Wolf added that his proposal has garnered official endorsements from more than 60 stakeholders and municipal leaders over the past year.

His infrastructure funding proposal focused on five areas: providing more high-speed internet access statewide; improving storm preparedness and disaster recovery programs; supporting infrastructure needs for manufacturing, business development, and the energy sector; addressing residential and commercial property “blight” and brownfield clean-up needs; plus, funding an array of transportation projects.

That includes local road upgrades, new “flexible funding” options for businesses that need local infrastructure upgrades, plus monies for multimodal and large-scale transit capital projects – all paid for by a new “severance tax” on natural gas production.

Photo by PennDOT

Gov. Wolf added that the “severance tax” funding this $4.5 billion infrastructure proposal will be tied to natural gas profitability; as producer profitability increases due to rising natural gas prices, the severance tax rate will increase as well.

Restore Pennsylvania will also help towns and cities prepare for flooding and other severe weather, plus establish a disaster relief fund to help survivors with repairs that are not covered by insurance or federal disaster loans or grants, explained Randy Padfield, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

“In 2019 we unfortunately did not get any federal disaster declarations to provide grants to help pay for infrastructure damages,” he noted. “The need for disaster assistance remains as urgent as ever.”

editor@aashto.org

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