What you need to know
- Gov. Shapiro is proposing a “historic” $1 billion increase in education funding to address inequities
- Shapiro’s budget plan includes $161 million in funding to SEPTA amid budget shortfalls
- Calling Pa.’s minimum wage a “shanda,” Shapiro is renewing the push to raise it
- The governor is also proposing $4 million to erase medical debt for thousands of Pennsylvanians
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Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said his administration is prepared to increase its investment in SEPTA by $161 million as Philadelphia’s transit system faces a budget shortfall when pandemic funds expire in July.
During his budget address Tuesday, Shapiro said nearly a million people across the state rely on public transit each day. His proposed 1.75% increase in transit funding, a $282.8 million investment, would generate nearly $1.5 billion over five years. If approved, it would be the first increase in the state’s share of public transit funding in over a decade.
Shapiro has been facing calls from local communities and federal lawmakers to increase SEPTA’s funding as it faces a $240 million shortfall. If the transit agency can’t secure that funding, Leslie Richards, SEPTA’s CEO and president, has said service could be cut by 20% and fares increased by as much as 30% this fall.
“Based on our discussions with SEPTA, if you adopt my proposal they will not cut service or raise fares, and they’ll have a concrete plan for a cleaner, safer public transit system that creates economic opportunity in southeastern Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said.
However, SEPTA will have to step up on some things the governor finds lacking.
“I insisted they address concerns about cleanliness and safety — and I asked the local counties whose residents benefit from that system to meet this moment with additional support,” Shapiro said. “I can now report that SEPTA has presented plans to address cleanliness and safety, and county officials have entertained a willingness to increase their financial support.”
The governor said that if those requirements are met, an automatic 15% match from local counties will be triggered, raising another $24 million for the system this year.
“This critical funding for transit will allow SEPTA to maintain service and continue to be the engine for our city and region,” Richards said in a statement released Tuesday. “With budget certainty, SEPTA can move forward with needed service enhancements and initiatives to make the system cleaner, safer and more reliable.”
If approved, PRT in Allegheny County would receive roughly $40 million more for this year, and LANTA in Lehigh and Northampton counties would get an extra $6 million.
Shapiro also addressed funding for Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges. He said by decoupling state police funding and infrastructure funding in the recent budget, an additional $125 million has been made available for repairs.
“My administration leveraged that state funding to get even more matching federal dollars …
And as a result, we repaired over 7,000 miles of Pennsylvania roadways — 600 more miles than we repaired the year before,” Shapiro said. “This year, my budget makes another $125 million available so we can do even more to ensure our roads are safe and well-maintained.”
Last year, $1.25 billion went toward day-to-day operating expenses for transit systems around the state and $650 million went toward larger, one-time capital expenses, almost exclusively to SEPTA and PRT. That’s among the highest per-capita state transit allocations in the country.
Shapiro’s proposal will likely face an uphill battle in the tightly divided state Legislature. A similar proposal did not make it into the state budget signed by Shapiro in December.
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