Restore Pennsylvania initiative seeks to improve infrastructure while reducing environmental impact

Our environment is rapidly changing. Our roads and bridges are crumbling. Our jobs are disappearing.

Restore Pennsylvania, or #RestorePA, addresses these problems by launching a united front, making us safer and more secure, while moving toward a more prosperous and environmentally responsible future.

This plan has broad support from House members across the Commonwealth, and I want to thank my Chester County colleagues – State Reps. Melissa Shusterman, Dan Williams, Carolyn Comitta and Christina Sappey – for signing on to the #RestorePA plan.

By banding together as a coalition, Pennsylvania – and Chester County specifically – will continue to be a great place to live and work. Only together will we find meaningful solutions.

The #RestorePA plan is just such an innovative and forward-thinking solution to a number of problems plaguing Pennsylvania. A major defect in previous plans is budgeting – year after year, the legislature passes a budget with major funding gaps.

We must ensure we have an adequate funding source to pay for desperately needed infrastructure repairs and improvements.

The old standby measures have not worked. We need to find creative avenues to secure funding.

A severance tax could be that creative solution. Despite being the second-largest natural gas producer, Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state that does not tax drillers for their pillaging. Why are these companies not paying their fair share?

Yet we cannot, must not, and will not remain dependent on the oil and gas industry. The severance tax is a short-term solution to a long-term problem, one that will be nothing more than a useless Band-Aid if relied upon for too long.

Yes, the severance tax will help us repair our ravaged roads and crumbling bridges. And yes, these projects will bring good jobs that pay real wages. But we cannot ignore the devastating impacts of global climate change.

Our goal remains a clean energy future. This is why I signed on to Rep. Chris Rabb’s, D-Phila., H.B. 1425, which mandates Pennsylvania’s transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

We must prepare our communities for a present and future haunted by a changing climate. Floods are more severe and more frequent than ever before. The clean air and water promised us by the Pennsylvania Constitution are polluted.

The massive reappraisal of our infrastructure entailed by #RestorePA will be felt across the Commonwealth. The burden on taxpayers will be lessened. We will spend less time waiting in traffic. We will spend less recovering from natural disasters.

Our water and sewer lines will be updated. High-speed internet access will be expanded, ensuring our rural communities see the same advantages as our urban and suburban areas.

The plan also has room for more local measures. In my own district, the plan could potentially be used for funding to remediate the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland, a former superfund site.

By investing in #RestorePA, we are investing in the future, not just our future, but that of our children and grandchildren.