Knowles pushes to use liquor privatization money to fix state's roads and bridges
HARRISBURG - Joined by a coalition of fellow advocates, Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/ Schuylkill) publicly announced his proposal to use the money from the privatization of Pennsylvania's liquor store system to fix the state's roads and bridges at a press conference held Monday in Harrisburg.
Knowles' House Bill 220 establishes the Infrastructure Future Fund which would ensure that all revenue from the privatization of the state liquor store system be used to pay for construction costs of roads and bridges over the next four years.
"Transportation is an issue that affects all Pennsylvanians, whether they be driving, walking or riding," said Knowles. "Unlike if the revenue was used to address the public pension crisis or on education block grants - tangible expenditures, such as concrete and steel, would create positive, physical change. House Bill 220 takes an antiquated state asset and invests its worth into the future roads, bridges and infrastructure Pennsylvania needs to create jobs, spur economic growth and build a brighter future."
Pennsylvania is home to more than 120,000 miles of roads and 32,000 bridges, making the Commonwealth the fifth largest state-maintained road system in the nation. The Pennsylvania Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) reported in 2010 that there are nearly 5,000 structurally deficient bridges and more than 7,000 miles of road in poor condition throughout the state.
"With the severe backlog of important transportation and infrastructure projects throughout the state, this is clearly the best use of the money from the sale of liquor and wine licenses," House Majority Whip Stan Saylor (R-York) said. "The reason is that we can actually get projects completed and checked off the backlog that has been languishing for decades. People and commerce will benefit immediately and these bridge and road projects will last at 50 years or more."
Under House Bill 220, the revenue from the privatization of the state's liquor store system would supplement Gov. Tom Corbett's nearly $5.4 billion transportation investment initiative. This would also open up options in terms of the governor's plan for lifting the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax.
"House Bill 220 should be part of the overall solution to fix our roads and bridges to prevent tragedies like the collapse of Minnesota's Interstate 35 that claimed 13 innocent lives," Sen. Dave Argall (R-29) said. "Improving our infrastructure and ensuring the safety of Pennsylvanians is a core function of state government."
This measure also establishes the Infrastructure Future Restricted Receipts Account, where the money would be used to pay for construction costs of authorized transportation infrastructure projects, such as a bridges, tunnels and state highways. The state treasurer would manage, invest and reinvest the money in the fund.
"Transportation is a core function of government, and investing the upfront, short-term liquor privatization monies into our roads, highways and bridges would provide immediate, long-term benefits to taxpayers and job creators," said Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation.
For more information on Knowles' House Bill 220, or any state-related issue, call his office in Tamaqua at (570) 668-1240, or in Hamburg at (610) 562-3411, or visit RepKnowles.com or Facebook.com/RepKnowles.