Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

House Speaker Turzai Wants State to Have Influence on County Airport Authority Board Pa. Officials Would Pick 5 of 13 Members

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

House Speaker Turzai Wants State to Have Influence on County Airport Authority Board Pa. Officials Would Pick 5 of 13 Members

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai is pitching a bill to expand the Allegheny County Airport Authority board to 13 members, with five of those appointed by the state.

Under the proposed legislation, four of the appointments would be made by the state General Assembly and one by the governor. Each legislative caucus would have one appointment.

The authority board now consists of nine members, all appointed by county Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald, a Democrat, would lose one appointment if Mr. Turzai's bill becomes reality.

In a memorandum seeking co-sponsors for the change, Mr. Turzai, a Bradford Woods Republican, said the state government "provides substantial funding to airports, but has little say in how the funding is spent in return."

"The addition of legislative and gubernatorial appointees to these boards will help to ensure that the airports run smoothly, and that state airport funding is being used in a responsible and productive manner," Mr. Turzai wrote in the co-sponsoring memorandum.

Although Mr. Turzai refers to airports and boards in the memorandum, the only one affected by the proposal would be the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Mr. Turzai could not be reached for comment. Christine Goldbeck, his communications director, said that at least 10 percent of the authority's overall budget comes from state funding.

For the last decade, the authority has been receiving $12.4 million a year from the state for economic development and to reduce the costs to the airlines operating from Pittsburgh International Airport, which it oversees along with the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin.

That allocation from the slots-backed state economic development fund was reauthorized in 2017 as part of gambling expansion.

Mr. Turzai is proposing the legislation at a time when the authority is preparing to embark on a $1. …

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