Wolf Administration Testifies to Benefits of Restore Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Plan

June 10, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Deputy Chief of Staff Sam Robinson joined Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin to testify before the joint House and Senate policy committees about the benefits of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed Restore Pennsylvania infrastructure investment plan.

“We believe that the residents of Pennsylvania deserve to live without fear that their children will ingest toxic chemicals, which have been found in too many communities. That all Pennsylvanians deserve to live in neighborhoods that are vibrant, healthy and free of blight, brownfields and decay. To have access to well-maintained public facilities and recreational amenities. They deserve to live without fear of losing their homes to flooding,” said Robinson. “We need Restore Pennsylvania to address these challenges. We need Restore Pennsylvania to give Pennsylvanians the commonwealth they deserve.”

Restore Pennsylvania will invest $4.5 billion over the next four years in significant high-impact projects throughout the commonwealth to help catapult Pennsylvania ahead of every state in the country in terms of technology, development, and infrastructure.

Robinson’s full remarks, as prepared:
“Chairwoman Boscola, Chairman Sturla, and members of the House and Senate Democratic Policy Committees, thank you for having me here today to discuss the Governor’s Restore Pennsylvania initiative, which was introduced last week with strong bipartisan support in both Chambers.

“The Restore Pennsylvania concept was born of the Governor’s experience travelling the state, seeing the need first-hand, and hearing from frustrated officials who have seen investment in infrastructure dry up, even as the needs continue to grow.

“The Governor shares his own frustration meeting with residents who were affected by flooding in last year’s unprecedented storms, and feeling like he was at a funeral, where all he could say was, “I’m sorry for your loss” without having state programs to help rebuild.

“Restore was born out of that frustration and shows the Governor’s commitment to take action. The Governor convened a group of Secretaries, including Secretary Davin, as well as staff and told us to roll up our sleeves and get to work on a new path forward.

“We began by identifying areas of need. Last year was the wettest year on record in Pennsylvania, resulting in over a hundred million dollars in damage to state owned infrastructure, tens of millions of dollars in property damage, and at least two deaths. PEMA reports that some 80% of the flooding that occurred happened in areas that have never flooded before.

“In terms of broadband, the Federal Communications Commission estimates that approximately 800,000 Pennsylvanians lack access to reliable high-speed internet. More recently we’ve learned that the problem is even worse than we thought. According to a study released this month from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, not one county in the state has at least 50 percent of its population receiving broadband that meets federal definitions of high-speed service.

“Across the state there are some 300,000 blighted properties that need to be either renovated, or demolished and rebuilt. These properties are lowering property values, promoting unsafe conditions, and possibly leading to crime. All too often they constitute a blight on our civic pride, a signal that a community is headed the wrong way.

“To date, DEP is investigating PFAs contamination at 23 sites, and unfortunately more continue to be identified as the department begins a sampling plan across the state. The cost of installing activated carbon treatments in order to ensure that water is safe on just one municipal well can run a million dollars or more.

“Across our state’s 121 state parks and 2 million acres of state forest we face infrastructure needs totaling nearly $1 billion, and in every grant round, our agencies receive more applications for worthy projects for new trail connections, stormwater funding, improvements to local parks, and preservation of farms and green space than current resources allow.

“These are the among the challenges that the Governor is seeking to address with Restore Pennsylvania.

“Restore Pennsylvania will invest $4.5 billion over the next four years in significant high-impact projects throughout the commonwealth to help catapult forward in terms of technology, development, and infrastructure.

“Since announcing this program in January, the Governor has spent the past several months speaking directly to community leaders, business owners and residents who desperately need Restore Pennsylvania.

“He’s met with many of you, and toured sites in your districts that have been ravaged by flooding or are struggling to tackle danger and decay caused by blight. He’s visited schools with pealing lead paint, and communities where students struggle to do homework because the area lacks broadband internet access.

“Your feedback, and those of the leaders in your communities, have helped inform the legislation that was unveiled last week. And the conversation will continue, as we look forward to working with you to pass these bills and then to implementing programs that will ensure that every Pennsylvanian, in every corner of the state benefits.

“At his inauguration, the Governor spoke about a commonwealth on a comeback. We have seen that in so many ways in recent months. And Restore Pennsylvania is the next step, investing in the promise of a better Pennsylvania.

“We believe that the residents of Pennsylvania deserve to live without fear that their children will ingest toxic chemicals, which have been found in too many communities.

“That all Pennsylvanians deserve to live in neighborhoods that are vibrant, healthy and free of blight, brownfields and decay. To have access to well-maintained public facilities and recreational amenities.

“They deserve to live without fear of losing their homes to flooding.

“We need Restore Pennsylvania to address these challenges. We need Restore Pennsylvania to give Pennsylvanians the commonwealth they deserve.”

Learn more about Gov. Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania plan.

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