Rendell on bond measure, special session

Governor Rendell is defending allocating 20 million dollars to projects named after Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman John Murtha.

Nearly every state department lost funding in this year’s budget, but an accompanying bond measure hands out 300 million dollars for construction projects across the state. That includes 10 million dollars for an Arlen Specter library at Philadelphia University, and a matching amount for a John Murtha Policy Center in Johnstown.

The two line items drew the ire of conservative lawmakers during weekend budget votes, but Rendell defends them.

Rendell points out the borrowed money can’t be used for operating expenses, so the 300 million dollars would not have restored any budget cuts. The borrowing bill was passed by both legislative chambers on Saturday, less than a day after its line items were made public.

Meantime, Rendell is pressuring lawmakers to vote on transportation funding this summer. After passing the budget bills Saturday, both the House and Senate adjourned until September, and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi has indicated his chamber won’t be back before then.

Rendell says the General Assembly is shirking its responsibilities.

Rendell called a special session earlier this year, to address the funding gap that was created when federal officials rejected Pennsylvania’s application to toll I-80. Lawmakers say they can deal with transportation in September and October.

The fall will be busy – leaders have also vowed to pass a natural gas severance tax, and to create a new legislative fiscal office.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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