Senator Lisa Baker E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Approves Baker Plan to Examine PennDOT’s Highway Maintenance Funding Formula
  • Share Your Comments – I-81 Susquehanna Project Tolling Plan
  • Update on the Legislative Reapportionment Commission
  • Senate Committee Receives Input on Congressional Redistricting
  • Webinar for First-Time Environmental Grant Applicants
  • Apprenticeship Week: Information for Employers and Job Seekers

Senate Approves Baker Plan to Examine PennDOT’s Highway Maintenance Funding Formula

11/8/21 Baker SR 53

Reliable and sustainable transportation funding is critical for our residents and essential for commerce.  In an effort to continue working towards adequate and fair funding for our interconnected transportation needs, the Senate approved my plan to conduct a comprehensive study of PennDOT’s highway maintenance funding formula.

Senate Resolution 53 was passed with unanimous support and directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to undertake a contemporary review, comparing transportation funding and conditions from 1997 to the present, and the foreseeable future. 

For many years, across the state and across the nation, there have been repeated calls for additional investment in repair and expansion of critical infrastructure. We continue to frequently hear about the condition of local roads and bridges, where maintenance always seems to have lagged or been insufficient.  No matter how much state money is committed or available, it is not distributed equitably, which is a problem that must be addressed.  Pennsylvania taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going, and how we can efficiently ensure a strong infrastructure for future generations.

As the legislative and executive branches grapple with transportation policy and funding, it is important to have accurate and current data.  A modern assessment of how the factors in the formula should be weighted, according to documented needs and anticipated outcomes, will be an extremely useful tool.  

The study will include:

  • An updated tally of state lane miles and bridges in each of PennDOT’s County Maintenance Offices (CMO), including the number and percentage that are three-digit and four-digit highways;
  • Vehicle miles travelled in each of the CMO’s;
  • A tally of state emergency funding by the CMO’s for acts of nature such as flooding and landslides;
  • And the percentage of State Highway Maintenance Funding that goes towards major, fixed expenditures including personnel salary and benefit costs in each CMO.

The study will be a positive step forward in helping us to better invest in all areas of our state, including small communities and rural areas, and their local byways which are indispensable lifelines, for jobs, healthcare, education, emergency services, and much more.  The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee now has 12 months to conduct the study and issue a report on Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s highway maintenance funding.

Share Your Comments – I-81 Susquehanna Project Tolling Plan

I have serious concerns with the Wolf Administration’s I-81 Susquehanna Project Tolling Plan. My full statement voicing opposition to the plan is available here.

This plan must be reconsidered, as it will disproportionally cause hardship to those who live and work within our region. In effect, this will drive up costs for local taxpayers in order to help out the state transportation budget, which already works to our detriment through inadequate allocation of maintenance monies.  That is a battle we have been fighting for years now.  This plan would make our funding deficit situation worse.

This plan clearly constitutes something far less than progress or accountability, and I continue to believe that it is important that opposition is voiced by elected officials, community leaders, and residents.  Between now and December 8, please join me in sharing your thoughts directly with PennDOT via phone, email or by submitting a form on their website.

Update on the Legislative Reapportionment Commission

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission held its latest public hearing this week in Harrisburg.

The commission took input from an expert panel about citizen mapping efforts. You can watch the hearing and view testimony here. It has held nine public hearings, receiving input from a total of 29 experts and 51 citizen witnesses, in addition to 490 written submissions by citizens. 

As dictated by the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission redraws the lines of Senate and House of Representative districts every 10 years to reflect changes in the U.S. Census.

Senate Committee Receives Input on Congressional Redistricting

The effort of redrawing the boundaries of Pennsylvania Congressional districts continued with the third public hearing on the issues by the Senate State Government Committee.

The panel discussed maps created by citizens and took testimony regarding the process behind it. You can access hearing video and testimony here.

As with state legislative districts, congressional boundaries are redrawn following each census to reflect population changes. Because Pennsylvania’s population has been outpaced by growing states, it will drop from 18 to 17 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 2022 elections.

Unlike state Senate and House reapportionment, congressional redistricting is done through the legislative process, beginning at the committee level.

Webinar for First-Time Environmental Grant Applicants

Organizations, municipalities, businesses and farmers can register now for a free webinar on applying for state environmental grants.

The webinar is geared toward first-time applicants and based on survey feedback, and will cover the essentials of applying. It will also look at seven grant programs and answer questions.

Hosted by the Department of Environmental Protection, the webinar will be held Thursday, Dec. 2, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can find more information and register here.

Apprenticeship Week: Information for Employers and Job Seekers

National Apprenticeship Week is a reminder apprenticeships play a critical role in producing a skilled workforce by connecting aspiring workers with employers in need, and that resources are available to make that connection happen.

According to state Labor and Industry Department estimates, nearly nine out of 10 apprentices are employed after they complete their apprenticeship, and the majority take jobs with a starting salary of $60,000 a year or more. Apprenticeships also allow Pennsylvanians to graduate with little to no student debt.

There are 1,585 apprenticeships registered with the state, along with 74 pre-apprenticeships. You can learn about the different kinds of apprenticeships, how to secure one and more here.

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