I fully support continuing the progress made by the Wolf Administration to increase and further expedite our investment in repairing and upgrading Pennsylvania's aging and crumbling infrastructure as a budgetary priority. These investments in our infrastructure now will save taxpayers money in the long-term, create jobs, support businesses big and small, and improve the safety and quality of life for all. Infrastructure investment is therefore foundational to building a strong economy for Pennsylvania in both the long and short term.
In a 2017 report projecting on the effects of infrastructure investment, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) notes the important role infrastructure plays in our economy by saying, "The condition of roads, bridges, schools, water treatment plants, and other physical assets greatly influences the economy's ability to function and grow. Commerce requires well-maintained roads, railroads, airports, and ports so that manufacturers can obtain raw materials and parts and deliver finished products to consumers. Growing communities rely on well-functioning water and sewer systems. State-of-the art schools free from crowding and safety hazards improve educational opportunities for future workers. Every state needs infrastructure improvements that have potential to pay off economically in private-sector investment and job growth."
Further, a report from Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics states, "The boost to GDP from every dollar spent on building bridges and schools is an estimated $1.59." That is a 59% return on every dollar spent on infrastructure which is the biggest bang for the buck available from any type of public investment in economic development.
Years of neglect and the failure of our legislature to make necessary investments in Pennsylvania's infrastructure has left our roads and bridges crumbling, and our economic future vulnerable. Republican legislators have consistently chosen the politically safe option of pushing funding for infrastructure down the road. I'm running to do the right thing, not the easy thing. Delaying these investments or failing to make them altogether, hurts existing businesses, discourages new businesses from locating in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, it puts our citizens and families at risk as we travel throughout our communities every day.
In its most recent Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave Pennsylvania's infrastructure a grade of C-. In its report, the ASCE noted that:
- Pennsylvania has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the country. Of the Commonwealth's more than 22,000 bridges, nearly one in four are considered structurally deficient.
- Pennsylvania has the most combined sewer overflows (CSOs) of any state.
- The Commonwealth must invest $28 billion over the next 20 years to repair existing wastewater systems, meet clean water standards and build or expand existing systems to meet increasing demands.
- Pennsylvania's 1.3 traffic fatalities per 100 million miles of travel is significantly higher than the national average of 1.1.
The ASCE went on to recommend that state government "stop wasting money by waiting." That is advice that our elected leaders need to heed. Of Pennsylvania's most desperately needed infrastructure upgrades, the most pressing issues deal with transportation and water systems. Again, according to ASCE, "Waiting will only lead to larger issues that will disrupt lives and cost even more when the bill comes due. Pennsylvania must look at the full cost of decisions and then put savings to use."
Continuing and increasing the pace of Pennsylvania's infrastructure repairs and upgrades is not just fiscally responsible because it saves us money in the long run, it is essential as a foundation for community and economic development, not to mention vital to our safety and quality of life. I will work diligently to reverse the years of neglect and make these investments in our Commonwealth to upgrade, preserve and protect a vital infrastructure in Pennsylvania.