Gov. Tom Corbett defended his $27.1 billion budget proposal on Friday, calling Democrats who criticized him for not boosting transportation funding "ballsy"
Democrats didn't fix what has been called a transportation funding crisis when they controlled the House and had Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, in the governor's mansion, Corbett said. A special legislative session on transportation that was called during Rendell's last year in office produced no results, he said.
"For them to call on me and say, 'We need to fix this problem in the first 14, 13 months you're in office,' ... It's ballsy," Corbett said during a news conference at Calgon Carbon Corp. in Findlay, adding that efforts to close a $4.2 billion budget deficit last year dominated the early part of his first year in office.
Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, the Senate minority leader, blamed Republicans for torpedoing efforts near the end of Rendell's tenure to dedicate funding for transportation. He said there is bipartisan support now to get something done, but the governor has dragged his feet.
Corbett said Pennsylvania's transportation problems "didn't just get here."
Among problems, 23 percent of all state and locally owned bridges are structurally deficient, while 20 percent of Pennsylvania's state-maintained roads are in poor condition. Transit agencies face budget crunches, including Port Authority of Allegheny County, which receives most of its operational funding from Harrisburg and is considering a 35 percent service cut to help close a $64 million deficit.
Corbett's proposed transportation budget totals $5.67 billion, down 9 percent from this fiscal year. A commission Corbett appointed last year recommended ways to generate an added $2.7 billion annually for transportation within five years, but the governor has yet to offer legislative proposals.
Corbett said tough work lies ahead. The key question, he said, is, "Where is the Legislature going to be, particularly in an election year, when it comes time to make some very tough decisions?"
Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, the House minority leader, said in a letter to all House members that he plans to "highlight Gov. Corbett's inaction" by introducing legislation to rename PennDOT the "Department of Deferred Maintenance."