Pennsylvania bill would fund road and bridge work without tolls, taxes

| 3/24/2008

A bipartisan plan to fund road and bridge repairs in Pennsylvania without new taxes or tolls has been offered at the statehouse.

Reps. Keith McCall, D-Lansford, and David Argall, R-Tamaqua, have unveiled their plan to pay for much-needed transportation projects. The plan involves rerouting money from the state’s Motor License Fund that now is used by the State Police.

The state’s Department of Transportation controls the Motor License Fund, which is supported by the state’s fuel tax, motor vehicle license and registration fees, as well as other fees.

The State Police receive $500 million annually from the fund. The money supplies about two-thirds of the total State Police budget.

But McCall and Argall want to wean law enforcement off the fund. During the next 10 years, the patrol would receive $50 million less each year than the prior year. The State Police budget would gradually be funded out of the state’s General Fund.

As a result of changing the funding setup, the state’s DOT would gain $2.75 billion during the next decade for such projects as road and bridge work. Each year after, PennDOT would get $500 million for those projects.

McCall, the House Democratic Whip, said the plan enables the state to ensure that roads and bridges are fixed and the State Police are properly funded. Argall, the House Republican Whip, also pointed out the legislation doesn’t require residents to foot the bill with new taxes or tolls.

Both lawmakers oppose plans to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike. They are critical of putting too much revenue into private businesses and banks while removing a source of income for the state.

At least 40 House Democrats and Republicans have added their names to the list of bill co-sponsors.

“This proposal is neither Republican or Democrat, because the roads and bridges that need repair are throughout our Commonwealth,” Argall said in a written statement.

The bill – HB2309 – is in the House Transportation Committee.

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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor