Commission Mechanics

Yesterday’s blog discussed the rather limited scope under which the Governor’ Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC) will operate. Governor Rendell’s task force-the Transportation Funding and Reform Commission (TFRC)-likewise dealt with transportation issues, and the Executive Orders creating each respective group provides a good starting point for comparing and contrasting the two efforts.

Some Similarities:

  • Both Governors designated the Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation as the titular chair of the Commission
  • Both Executive Orders stipulated that Commission members would not be compensated for their service, other than travel and related expenses
  • Both Commissions received staff support from the Department of Transportation

Some Differences

  • Governor Corbett’s Commission is much larger with 35 members, whereas Governor Rendell’s had 9 members
  • Governor Corbett will select all members of his Commission, whereas legislative leaders made 4 of the 9 appointments on Governor Rendell’s Commission
  • Governor Corbett’s Commission is working on a much shorter time frame: the Executive Order was signed on April 21st, and the final report is due on or before August 1st of this year. Governor Rendell’s Commission was created February 28, 2005 and its final report was due on or before November 15, 2006 (it was actually submitted on November 13, 2006)
  • Governor Rendell’s Executive Order ordered operational audits of SEPTA and PAT
  • Governor Corbett’s Executive Order includes public and private use airports as part of the transportation mix

Pennsylvania Roads and Bridges—Government’s Shame

While Governor Rendell has been working hard to keep increasing spending on education, the state’s roads and bridges and transit systems have been deteriorating to the point of being a threat to the state’s ability to grow and attract new businesses and residents. The latest report form the American Society of Civil Engineers paints a very sobering picture of just how bad the state’s transportation infrastructure has become.

The record of ineptness in dealing with the severity of the state’s roads and bridge problem is nothing short of remarkable. State budgets have grown much faster than inflation over the course of Mr. Rendell’s two terms, yet the state’s performance in addressing the roads and bridge issues remain shameful. Money has been shifted from highways fund s to support mass transit, the government dithered for years trying to get the Feds to approve tolling on I-80, the Governor supported unions in transit disputes and pushed for ever greater spending on education and economic development programs. And any discussion of lifting the prevailing wage laws that substantially boost road and bridge cost has been off the table.

What can be more important for the state’s economy than maintaining a good road system? And what has been the Governor’ priorities? Education and economic development spending. The payoff for these spending categories is very dubious. Failing to maintain roads will undoubtedly have a negative impact.