The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 25, 2013

Battle lines taking shape over state highways bill


Corbett spokeswoman Kelli Roberts said Friday that the Department of Transportation had already achieved considerable cost savings, "to make sure every dollar is maximized."

Saylor said some House Republicans think a vote on Corbett's transportation plan should be delayed until lawmakers in both chambers vote on whether to privatize the state liquor stores. House Republicans last year tried, but failed, to pass legislation to privatize wine and liquor sales.

"I am fine with trying to do issues together," Saylor said. "I think that there are some people who definitely want to see both of them passed, in some cases, the liquor bill first."

That may not sit well with Democrats or Senate Republicans, for whom transportation funding is a top priority.

"This issue needs to get moved forward and not be linked to another issue," Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said Friday. "We don't need Washington-style politics in Harrisburg this legislative session. People want results."

Scarnati said privatizing the liquor stores ranks lower as a priority than concerns over the cost of public employee pensions, crumbling transportation networks, school safety and tight state finances that may demand more spending cuts. Senate Republicans are preparing to introduce their own transportation plan in the coming days.

"Republicans in any transportation vote are going to count on a significant percentage of Democratic votes, at least that's my position," said Philadelphia Rep. Michael McGeehan, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee. "I think any move to tie this to liquor store privatization is going to complicate this immensely."

Always controversial, money for mass transit may be hotly contested.

The House Republican memo said mass transit funding should not be considered along with spending for roads and bridges, in a tone that suggested some tough sledding in the Republican-controlled House unless Corbett can draw in substantial Democratic votes.

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