House Appropriations Committee Discusses Job Growth
Philadelphia, PA- The House Appropriations Committee held an economic roundtable on Wednesday to discuss the dredging of the Delaware River, the efforts to keep the Philadelphia area refineries open, and public transportation issues facing the Southeast. This roundtable discussion concluded a three-day visit to the area where members toured facilities such as the Philadelphia Naval Yard and the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in Chester County.
Testifying before the committee were officials from Delta Airlines and Monroe Energy, Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, Holt Logistics, Canadian Pacific, Pilot’s Association for Bay and River Delaware, SEPTA, and the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Each testifier updated the committee on the economic impact of various economic initiatives affecting their industry and shared concerns of possible roadblocks for future growth.
First to testify were Jeff Warmann of Monroe Energy and Jeff Davidman of Delta Airlines who spoke about the reopening of the ConocoPhillips refinery in Trainer. They explained to the committee that in today’s economy the No. 1 cost to airlines is fuel. The company hopes to use this facility to help manage those costs in the future. So far the company has created 456 positions and currently employs 315 people and 77 full-time contractors. The company credited getting the facility up and running quicker than expected to a skilled and hard-working labor force that wants to see the refinery succeed.
The next item to discuss was the dredging of the Delaware River. This is a project that has been in the works for more than two decades now. The goal is to deepen the river from its current depth of 40 feet to 45 feet to enhance the trade and business done by the port. By deepening the river, Philadelphia will be able to accept bigger ships, which will mean more cargo. This will help lower cost for hundreds of companies in the Southeast that import goods through the port as well as create more skilled labor jobs at the port.
Finally the Appropriations Committee heard from SEPTA about public transportation issues facing the organization. Currently SEPTA is the nation’s sixth-largest transit authority and in fiscal year 2012 more than 339 million trips were made on SEPTA, the largest ridership level in 23 years. SEPTA has made a strong commitment to fiscal discipline and sustainability by having its operating budget balanced for 13 consecutive years. One major concern for the organization is the Act 44 funding that was to come from tolling Interstate 80. With rejection of this from Washington the organization is realizing long-term operating and capital funding problems from Act 44. In addition, SEPTA’s infrastructure is aging and will be in need of replacement in the future. Members acknowledged that changes will have to be made, especially since Act 44 did not go the way the state had hoped.
Chairman Bill Adolph concluded the meeting by stating, “In these tough economic times it is good to see that we as a Commonwealth are taking concrete steps to getting people back to work, whether it is at the refineries in the Southeast, the expansion of natural gas drilling, or the proposed Shell cracker plant in Western Pennsylvania.”
Rep. William F. Adolph, Jr.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: John O’Brien