PA House Fails to Pass Transportation Funding Bill

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Marc Levy at the AP reports on Twitter that House Republicans’ favored Micozzi version of transportation funding narrowly failed.

59 Republicans voted Yes and 51 voted No on Micozzi, while 39 Democrats voted Yes and 52 voted No. 1 member did not vote.

The bill had a $2.3 billion topline number similar to SB1, but with prevailing wage laws triggered at $100,000 instead of $25,000. As reality-based readers know, most projects of interest cost in the millions, so this is basically a worthless debate.

After Micozzi went down, Mike Turzai brought up a little-discussed Turzai number that sucked, and even some House Republicans rebelled at the suckitude, so Turzai pulled it before it could get a vote.

So now people are talking about an alternative amendment from Democratic Rep. Mike Hanna that is basically the same as Micozzi, except without the prevailing wage changes that led a bunch of Democrats to defect. (Play along at hashtag #HannaTime).

In an ideal world I’m all about #HannaTime, but let me be the first to say I don’t think it’s going to work, and that party cartel dynamics (the “majority of the majority” principle) will lead Mike Turzai to choose let transportation funding fail rather than hold a vote on the Democratic plan. I’d love to be wrong about this, but I don’t see it happening.

And if I’m right, and we don’t get another vote on Micozzi afterward, I’m going off-message and blaming the Democrats who voted No on Micozzi.

The nutty anti-tax people were never gettable. They’re all scared of getting primaried by Governor Norquist for raising taxes.

Democrats though, actually had to weigh the trade-off between union wages on mythical $25,000-$99,999 transportation projects, against the toll that transit service cuts and deferred road maintenance would take on our economy, and they picked the weaker claim. That’s way worse. 11,000 more cars flooding the Schuylkill every morning after the Norristown and Cynwyd regional rail lines get mothballed between now and 2015! Fuck you dudes, for real.

When #HannaTime doesn’t pass this week, and we find out which Democrats killed transportation funding over prevailing wage, I’ll be recommending a batch of safe seaters for primaries next year.

The tea people are crazy and, with some luck, we’ll pick off as many as we can next year, but Democrats should know better than to tank a must-pass bill for their constituents over something this insignificant.

This entry was posted in Miscellany.

13 Responses to PA House Fails to Pass Transportation Funding Bill

  1. Be stupid and blame Democrats. Who runs the PA House? The GOP!! They fail at governing. How hard is that to understand? Why should the Democrats back legislative terrorism?

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Phil, we could’ve had 6 more Democrats vote Yes and pass this thing. They didn’t, over a meaningless change to prevailing wage. That’s ridiculous. It’s not “legislative terrorism” to govern as a majority party. Flip the party labels around and ask yourself how you’d feel. The Democrats had a tiny bit of power to get this over the line, and they chose not to use it for a stupid reason. 6 votes dude!

      • But why wasn’t it “ridiculous” for the House Republicans not to supply those 6 votes? Why isn’t it “ridiculous” for the Republican leadership not to allow a vote on a clean bill if in fact this provision is meaningless anyway?

        What you are arguing is that Republicans are entitled to prioritize party dynamics over the greater good, and Democrats are not. But that double standard makes no sense. In other words, you’ve made an excellent case for Mike Turzai being the real villain here–and then you blame the Democrats instead.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          The House Republicans are horrible for not bringing up the Hanna amendment. But Democrats know he’s not bringing up Hanna, and they’re ok with passing nothing rather than passing the prevailing wage change. Hanna > Micozzi > nothing. Choosing nothing because you can’t get Hanna is ridiculous.

          • But are you agreeing the Republicans are also being “ridiculous”? Because surely for them it should be:

            Micozzi>Hanna>nothing

            And unfortunately, part of what they are counting on is getting away with being ridiculous through enough people blaming the Democrats instead, or both sides equally.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            Yes, the Republicans are being ridiculous if you think the most important objective is to pass transportation funding. Politically, they aren’t being ridiculous. It’s not really in the party’s interest to piss off the tea people with a gas tax increase, because they may primary members and weaken the party going into 2014.

      • Oh, and governing as a majority party does not imply that you get to dictate to the minority party that it must provide votes for your bills. If you want to pass bills with just your own members, you can. If you want votes from the minority, you are supposed to negotiate concessions TO the minority. What you are not supposed to say is, “Hey, a bunch of our own members are crazy and won’t vote for anything even if leadership whips them, so you in the minority have to make up the difference in votes, but you don’t get anything in return for that.” In other words, a minority party is supposed to be able to act as an opposition party, not a reserve of no-questions-asked votes for whenever the majority leadership can’t control its own members.

  2. Jane Smith says:

    Grover Norquist, not Governor Norquist.

  3. Tom says:

    Talk to some people that work on municipal projects and the prevailing wage legislation has a MAJOR impact on them. The prevailing wage language isn’t just for state projects; it includes all government projects in Pennsylvania. Most municipalities put their paving bids out with multiple options. This allows them to cut streets or groups of streets if they estimates come in too high. Each street then comes in as a separate project and costs under $100,000to be paved. This is common with water and sewer line projects across the commonwealth.

    Secondly, many unions have conceded that they will be okay with an increase in the prevailing wage. However, they would like the prevailing wage laws to be followed and enforced. The Governor’s/Attorney General’s office aren’t enforcing the laws correctly as it stands now.

    Thirdly, this is about the Republicans trying to win some anti-union battle. Prevailing wage does not increase cost: http://www.epi.org/publication/bp215/ . The Republicans are in control of the House, the calendar, the amendments, and they are trying desperately to please their Tea Party overlords. They should have just offered this bill without the prevailing wage legislation (or with language that would strengthen the prevailing wage law with enforcement and an increased limit) and everyone would be celebrating. Half of the Democrats that voted NO have already been publicly in support of Senate Bill 1, so they have already put themselves out there to the anti-tax, don’t raise my fees crowd. Mike Turzai and Sam Smith know that they have those votes and they decided to play politics instead of doing what was right.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      If you want a vote on the Hanna amendment, then you needed to win more elections for Democrats back in 2010 and 2012. The tiny slice of power House Democrats have right now is to supply some extra votes to get Republican legislation over the hump. That’s it. Democrats got greedy and overconfident, and now the Schuylkill is going to be a parking lot every morning because they couldn’t find 6 more votes for Micozzi.

      • Your logic with respect to the limits of the House Democrats’ power as a minority party is based on the implicit assumption that there will be no adverse consequences to the House Republicans if they fail to pass a bill, despite controlling the entire state government. Otherwise, the House Democrats as the minority party could and should be asking to get concessions, not having to give them away, when the House Republican leadership can’t exercise sufficient party discipline to pass bills and thus needs some of the Democrats’ votes. Certainly that is how Republicans behave whenever they are the minority party–if you want to get any of their votes, you will have to make a LOT of concessions first.

        Of course your assumption may be in essence a self-fulfilling prophecy–if enough people insist on blaming the House Democrats for the failures of the House Republican leadership, maybe that double-standard will at least offset a lot of the adverse consequences that the Republicans would otherwise be facing.

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