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Congresswoman and Gubernatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz (D. PA-13) is making funding for public transportation a top issue not only on the campaign trail but also in the House:

America’s economic strength has always been built on a foundation of innovation and education. These gave us the tools to design and construct transportation networks that were once the marvel of the world. But today, the abysmal state of our nation’s antiquated roads, bridges, railways and ports is costing Pennsylvanians and Americans nationwide precious time, money and energy, while putting our citizens at risk.

If we expect to sustain our country’s leadership in an increasingly-competitive global economy, we cannot afford to ignore the structural deficiencies plaguing our infrastructure.

We must develop a national infrastructure strategy that emphasizes creative, bipartisan solutions based on economics, not political gamesmanship.

Whether it’s maintaining or rebuilding the Harrisburg area’s network of roads or ensuring that Capital Area Transit has the resources it needs to maintain critical service, we need to enact policy that allows communities the opportunity to develop projects based on their local needs and plans for sustainability and economic growth.

A look at the state of our nation’s infrastructure shows why the time has come for immediate action. - Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D. PA-13), The Patriot-News, 7/3/13

And she's working with her colleagues to get a transportation infrastructure bill passed:

FILE - In this May 17, 2013 file photo, Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa. speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. The recent defeat of the 2013 farm bill highlighted how the country-city political marriage became yet another victim of partisan p
Our bill would create Transportation and Regional Infrastructure Project Bonds that would leverage private investment to provide $50 billion in new transportation infrastructure funding and empower states and local governments to undertake significant projects nationwide. These TRIPs could be used for all modes of transportation, including roads, bridges, rail, transit, ports and inland waterways.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that for every $1 billion invested in transportation infrastructure, we can create or sustain 30,000 good-paying jobs in Pennsylvania. Using that benchmark, the $50 billion of tax credit bonds under the TRIPs legislation would create 1.5 million new jobs nationwide to help repave our roads, refurbish our bridges and strengthen our transit networks.

The congressional lawmakers joining me in leading this effort could not be more diverse in terms of backgrounds, political views or geography. In the House I'm working with Rep. Ed Whitfield, a conservative Kentucky Republican. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and North Dakota Republican John Hoeven are leading the effort in the Senate. Our legislation would enable each state to issue $1 billion in bonds over six years to support projects of their choosing. States would have the flexibility to identify a revenue stream best suited to their needs and also would have the option to pool their funds for larger projects, including those that affect multiple states.

A diverse group of business organizations, labor unions, industry experts and stakeholders have endorsed TRIPs, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Laborers' International Union of North America.

TRIPs provide an innovative opportunity to bridge the partisan wrangling in Washington and in statehouses over how to finance transportation projects and other critical infrastructure needs. It provides a low-cost financing mechanism that enables states to maintain and improve their infrastructure, which is a primary function of government, and sustain millions of jobs to ensure that America continues to lead in the 21st century. - Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D. PA-13), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/1/13

This my friends is what real leadership looks like.  Schwartz is rolling up her sleeves to get things moving and I am very proud that she is taking the lead on this issue.  This is exactly the type of leadership we need in Harrisburg coming 2015.  Schwartz has been critical of her opponent, Governor Tom Corbett's (R. PA) inability to make transportation funding a priority:

“If we're going to grow jobs and ensure our economic competitiveness, we have to have a governor that understands transportation and infrastructure is a basic requirement,” Schwartz said by telephone Friday. “Making that investment has got to be a top priority. It's not a priority I've seen in Gov. Corbett's administration, but it certainly would be one in mine.”

Schwartz, who announced her 2014 challenge to Corbett in April, said the timing of her transportation effort was not politically motivated.

“The state Senate Democrats and Republicans are pushing this governor to finally make a serious effort in repairing our roads and bridges in Pennsylvania,” said Schwartz, who spent 14 years as a commonwealth senator. “I hope it's successful.”

Transportation funding remains a priority with both parties in Congress, she noted, adding that House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Blair County, is supportive of her bipartisan effort.

“We did reach out to him and he is very interested,” Schwartz said. “His focus is getting a transportation bill done in Congress, but he's very open to this financing mechanism as a way to get dollars to transportation.” - The Patriot-News, 6/28/13

Corbett put forward a $1.8 billion transportation proposal while the state Senate passed a $2.5 billion transportation bill earlier this month.  However, Corbett's plan for transportation funding wasn't able to get the votes needed to pass:

Legislative work wrapped up tonight with lawmakers in both the House and Senate passing a $28.4 billion budget, but conceding that they will not be able to deliver, immediately at least, on the rest of Gov. Tom Corbett's ambitious agenda.

The breakdown occurred when House Democrats decided to put up their own roadblocks to a transportation funding proposal that - in many members' estimation - fell woefully short of the mark.

Without Democratic support, Republican Majority Leader MIke Turzai, R-Allegheny County, said that work on finishing the transportation bill will push to the fall.

That, in turn, likely means that a push to reform liquor sales in Pennsylvania will meet the same fate.

Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, said that the sense of his caucus was that they would not send a liquor bill that Pileggi had meticulously built support for without a good transportation bill in hand from the House.  And the Senate wanted assurances that the House would send the liquor plan to Corbett's desk. - The Patriot-News, 6/30/13

And if Corbett couldn't get his agenda pushed through during budget season, he's going to have a very hard time getting re-elected next year:

"Anytime the governor fails to enact his own initiatives during the budget season, it certainly does harm his chances of being [re-elected]," Sen. Jay Costa, the Democratic floor leader, said. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/2/13
Corbett's such a polarizing and unpopular Governor that no one wants to be associated with him.  And he's not off to a great start trying to fix up his image for election time:

Here's the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's review of Corbett's ad:

Today, Tom Corbett’s campaign released a web ad, his first for the 2014 campaign, but from the looks of it, his advertising firm BrabenderCox didn’t invest much time in their client, maybe with anticipation that he’d soon drop out of the race.

The ad recycles 2010 footage and uses a litany of stock video. It cites a headline from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, giving the impression that the newspaper’s editorial department produced the piece, when instead it was an op-ed written by a special interest group.

The only other positive citation they could find was from a pro-business special interest group with deep connections to the governor, who also happen to be donors.

With Gov. Corbett’s approval rating stuck in the 30s and rampant rumors that Republicans are searching for another candidate, it looks like Tom Corbett’s consultants aren’t even putting in much effort in his reelection effort. - Keystone Politics, 7/3/13

Also if there's one thing Corbett refuses to make a top priority, it's the Philadelphia public school system:

Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed public school "rescue package," currently making its way through the legislature, is a destructive joke with troubling long-term implications. The $140 million, pledged just before the governor signed the state budget last night, falls far short of both the $304 million budget gap and the $180 million the School Reform Commission requested from city and state government.

It's also a shell game, so make sure to watch closely: the plan shifts the burden for funding city schools onto those who can least afford it. Much of the funding comes from optimistic projections of increased collections from city tax delinquents, and from an extension of the city's "temporary" 1-percent sales tax hike. The latter is simply the state giving the city the power to further tax its own disproportionately low-income population. This is patently regressive taxation, meaning that it takes disproportionately from the poor — in a city that already has a regressive wage tax, and in a state that has one of the most regressive tax structures in the nation.

There is only $47 million in new state funding for city schools (less than half of what adds up to just $127 million in new funding, according to this Notebook/NewsWorks analysis, since $13 million Corbett had proposed previously was already included in the school district budget). Critically, $45 million of that is a one-time-only expenditure — and it actually comes not from Corbett but from the Obama administration. - Philadelphia City Paper, 7/1/13

Schwartz has been highly critical of Corbett's education cuts and she plans on making education a big issue in this race.  If you would like to get involved with Schwartz's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 04:37 PM PDT.

Also republished by Pittsburgh Area Kossacks, Philly Kos, Youth Kos 2.0, DKos Pennsylvania, In Support of Labor and Unions, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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