Both the State House and Senate had several session days in January passing items related to re-districting, firearm preemptions, a new board to oversee rural broadband, municipal advertising limits, cyber security for state agencies and liability for snow removal on vehicles.
The Governor’s budget address is scheduled for February 8th and he potentially telegraphed portions of his speech during a recent press conference with local officials where he detailed the improvements to the Commonwealth’s financial situation while he has been Governor.
“The financial strength of our commonwealth right now is proof that Pennsylvania can and must invest in schools, health care, and creating good jobs while still saving for a rainy day,” said Gov. Wolf. “We need to keep investing in the people of Pennsylvania. That is how we change lives, and it is how we put our commonwealth on the path to a better future. Now is the time to step up, seize the moment and make generational investments that will put Pennsylvania on a path of prosperity for years to come.”
The Governor also stated he has been given bad press because he is not a “showboated” but stated he would “take credit” for the turnaround of the commonwealth’s finances.
The Governor also highlighted that the Rainy Day Fund contains $2.8 billion to protect Pennsylvania against future emergencies, and the Independent Fiscal Office projects the current Administration will transition a budget surplus to the next Governor.
The Governor also held a press conference with US Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg where they announced Pennsylvania is going to receive $1.6billion in federal funds for bridge maintenance.
“This is a historic investment for Pennsylvania, and for our nation,” said Gov. Wolf. “Thank you to the Biden Administration for their steadfast leadership and for their commitment to Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Strong infrastructure is critical to the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians, especially strong, safe bridges. Bridges are the lifelines that connect our communities to one another, while modern, reliable infrastructure is essential for Pennsylvania-based businesses to expand.”
The Administration detailed that the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes an incentive for states to direct the new Bridge Formula Program funds to off-system bridges owned by a county, city, town, or other local agency. While states normally must match federal funding with up to 20 percent state or local funding, the guidance issued today notes that federal funds can be used for 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating such locally owned off-system bridges. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure, which will grow the economy, enhance U.S. competitiveness in the world, create good jobs, and make our transportation system more sustainable and equitable. Specific to the FHWA, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides more than $350 billion over five fiscal years for surface transportation programs.
In mid-November, President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act package that was passed by Congress. The package contains $550 billion in new spending over five years for mass transit, roads, bridges, rail, electric vehicle charging stations, broadband, lead pipes remediation and waterways. It is funded in part by the Corporate Profits Minimum Tax that would impose a 15% tax on corporations that report more than $1 billion in profits. The final vote was 228-206. Thirteen Republicans voted with the majority of Democrats in support of the bill, though six Democrats voted against it. Pennsylvania will receive $17.8 billion in funding which includes: