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Transportation Funding Plan Passes Senate, Heads Back to House

A $2.3 billion transportation infrastructure funding plan is headed back to the state House after it passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

Lawmakers are expected to take a concurring vote on it Thursday afternoon.

Senate Democrats were blocked from offering their own amendments to the bill.

Democratic state Sen. Jim Ferlo of Allegheny County says the plan includes a fund that will be used a lot like “walking around money,” or WAMs, which have been disparaged by Gov. Tom Corbett as an underhanded way of stewarding tax dollars.  

"This legislation has 50 million dollars of WAMS," Ferlo said. "It has 50 million dollars of discretionary spending. Now I hope and pray that these WAMs are going to be utilized in the way that the administration says."

The Republican Transportation Committee chairman counters the money was added during bipartisan negotiations, and will be used for specific transportation-related purposes.

The proposal removes a cap on a tax paid by gas stations and increases motorist fees and moving violation surcharges.

It would effectively reduce the wages paid to labor on smaller transportation-related public works projects, a measure that House Republicans insisted on and Democrats vociferously opposed.