Governor Wolf makes last budget proposal.  The highway construction industry received a positive nugget this week as the Governor called for a greater reduction for money going from the Motor License Fund to the State Police as part of his annual budget proposal.  Governor Wolf introduced his last budget of his administration this week and called for the General Assembly to move the diversion amount beyond the scheduled $647 million per year to $500 million per year.  If approved, this would free up an additional $147 million this year for PennDOT to infuse into the 2022 and 2023 construction programs.  APC and other industry associations have long been calling for the General Assembly to eliminate any money for the State Police coming the state’s Motor License Fund and instead fund the State Police from the General Fund or another separate dedicated fund of their own.  APC successfully achieved legislation to roll back the amount at a 4% rate per year and that would reduced the transfer down to $500 million but not until the year 2027.  The Governor’s call would hit this mark five years sooner.  We will continue to work with the General Assembly to ensure this ends up staying in the final budget and at the same time look for opportunities to decrease it more.

Groundhog Day.  While Punxsutawney Phil didn’t predict that “spring is just around the corner” this year, apparently neither will be the start of the 2022 elections.  The State Supreme Court this week ruled that the date to begin carrying nominating petitions will NOT begin on February 15, as scheduled.  The reason for the delay is due to the court scheduling a hearing on Feb. 18 to hear challenges to the redrawing of the state’s congressional districts.  Additionally, we are in the middle of a constitutionally mandated 30-day protest period before the new boundaries of the state’s 253 house and senate districts can be finalized.  It is expected that the court will set the new date to carry nominating petitions in early March.  The Primary Election Day is still set for May 17, but speculation is that this date may have to be postponed pending the court’s rulings over the next few weeks.

Upcoming schedule.  The State House won’t return to Harrisburg until Monday, March 21 and both the State House and Senate will return the following week on March 28.  The gap in the session will be for both chambers to conduct the annual Appropriations Hearings which are slated to begin on Monday.