The Lead

Wolf renews push for RESTORE PA plan ahead of budget talks

By: - January 28, 2020 5:34 pm

Gov. Tom Wolf at PEMA headquarters with DCNR Sec. Cindy Ann Dunn, DEP Sec. Patrick McDonnell and PEMA Director Randy Padfield

Gov. Tom Wolf wants to Restore PA. Again.

During a stop at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday, Wolf called on lawmakers to pass his stalled, $4.5 billion infrastructure bill, arguing that the start of budget season and the state’s approaching rainy season is a perfect time to revive it. 

“$4.5 billion dollars,” Wolf said. Think of what that could leverage.”

The plan to beef up broadband internet across the state, fight flooding and invest in natural gas production, along with other infrastructure investments, was introduced last year with a broad base of support.

Wolf’s infrastructure plan makes legislative debut with near-majority support

The plan calls for using government bonds to pay for two decades of infrastructure repairs and maintenance projects across the Commonwealth. The money would then be paid back with revenue from a severance tax on natural gas production.

The proposed tax rate in the bill ranges from .091 cents to .157 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas and would be dependent on yearly market price for gas.

Wolf called the bill and its included severance tax “common sense.”

At PEMA HQ in suburban Harrisburg, Wolf expressed frustration that although the bill debuted to much anticipation, it has yet to come to fruition.

“One year ago, I unveiled my Restore Pennsylvania proposal,” Wolf said. “Since then, we’ve talked a lot about how desperately communities need infrastructure funding, but the proposal to create Restore Pennsylvania has not moved in the legislature.”

Wolf said he believes the bill, which is currently mired in committee, would pass if it went to a vote, adding that the bill has 95 co-sponsors in the House and 23 in the Senate. It also has the support of more than 60 local governments.

Among the various places the tax dollars would be used, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Ann Dunn pointed to the 140 dams in Pennsylvania’s state parks, 49 of which are ranked as “high hazard” and 32 more are marked as “structurally deficient.”

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.