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Pennsylvania Treasurer Offers Loans To Fund Highway Projects

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Construction workers pour concrete.

Pennsylvania's state treasurer said Tuesday that his agency has come up with plans to prevent shutdowns of highway construction and safety work amid tax collections lagging because of economic fallout from the pandemic.

In a statement, Treasurer Joe Torsella said he was prepared to authorize financial support to the Motor License Fund to keep contractors paid and on the job through the fiscal year ending June 30.

The fund underwrites highway construction projects in Pennsylvania, as well as a significant portion of state police operations.

Torsella said he could loan treasury funds to the Motor License Fund, as well as advance a portion of a loan that lawmakers may decide to authorize against future tax collections that go into the fund, such as motorist fees and gas taxes.

The treasury over the past decade has routinely extended short-term loans to the state government to help it pay bills until its bigger tax collection months arrive.

The measures, Torsella said, would give Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature time to resolve the funding issues.

PennDOT in November informed lawmakers that it must stop hundreds of construction projects starting in December, suggesting that they needed approve its proposal to borrow $600 million against highway funds to keep construction crews paid and on the job.

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