Scarnati “Sets Record Straight”?

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati defends tolling I-80, claiming he is “setting the record straight”. He leads off saying, “One issue that is not debatable in Pennsylvania is the fact that our transportation needs have been vastly under funded.”

Actually that is highly debatable–spending on transportation has increased dramatically. Over the past ten years, funding for state highway and bridge maintenance increased 86%, and funding for state highway and bridge construction and reconstruction increased 125%. The reason that there is a “crisis” is how the money is spent – including earmarks and mismanaged funds. Sen. Scarnati did not mention that the plan to toll I-80, increase Turnpike tolls, and bond for billions of dollars does not address any reforms in spending.

Here are facts Scarnati forget to mention in “setting the record straight”:

  • Half of the money generated from tolling I-80 will go to mass transit in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (Scarnati only focuses on spending on roads and bridges).
  • A majority of Scarnati’s colleagues, the PA Senate Republicans, voted against tolling I-80
  • A Turnpike lease would have generated twice as much revenue for roads and bridges.
  • Mike Long, who is a lobbyist for the Turnpike Commission, fought against a Turnpike Lease. Sen. Scarnati put Mike Long on the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, which controls campaign contributions for Senate Republicans.

Check out Rep. Peterson’s Comments in Brett Lieberman’s blog:

“The Turnpike Commission has the least respect of any agency in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and we’re going to make it the biggest and most powerful agency. That’s not smart,” said Peterson.

But wait, it gets better. He may actually be onto something.

“Here we have the least trusted transportation agency ever in the commonwealth. They devise a plan to double their size, double their influence, double their money. Why did that go anywhere? Why would the legislature even look at that? Nobody trusts the Turnpike Commission.”

Read more on the Scarnati-English-Peterson debate from the AP.