HARRISBURG — A recent meeting of top legislative leaders created new hope for passage of a bill to fund transportation projects in Pennsylvania, negotiators said today as a soft deadline of this week was replaced by a November target date.
Five of the six leaders of both parties in the House and Senate met Monday in the offices of Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, looking for a deal in what currently is the most closely watched issue before the General Assembly.
“I’m more optimistic,” said House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. “I mean, we’re talking and working together.”
Dave Thomas, an aide to Republican House Speaker Sam Smith who has played a key role in the talks, said the new plan is to work on a proposal that would be a mixture of the $2.5 billion-a-year bill that passed the state Senate in June and a less costly approach under consideration in the House.
He said House Republicans no longer consider Wednesday their deadline, which has bought time for what is one of Gov. Tom Corbett’s top priorities.
Pileggi spokesman Erik Arneson said the goal is to look for a bipartisan deal that could be voted on after lawmakers return to session Nov. 12.
House Minority Whip Mike Hanna, D-Clinton, said Democrats will not be part of a deal that results in changes to the state’s prevailing wage law, which sets pay rates for public works projects. House Republican leaders have said prevailing wage changes should be included in the transportation package.