Pennsylvania panel recommends higher taxes, fees for transportation

| 11/20/2006

A special panel in Pennsylvania has issued its final report recommending roughly $1.7 billion in tax increases to help pay for needed road, bridge and public transit repairs in the state.

The Pennsylvania Transportation and Funding Reform Commission issued its report after spending the past 16 months looking at the state's transportation funding crisis. The report recommended $900 million a year in additional funding for roads and bridges and $760 million annually for transit.

The state already provides close to $3 billion a year for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges and about $1 billion for transit, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The nine-member commission, which was set up by Gov. Ed Rendell, recommended that the road improvements be funded through a 12.5-cent-per-gallon increase in fuel taxes and an increase in annual motor vehicle registration or driver's license fees.

For public transit, the commission recommended a combination of state and local taxes.

The commission also said spending on roads and transit could be trimmed by $180 million through steps such as using public-private partnerships, streamlining the road construction process, and restructuring mass-transit routes, The Associated Press reported.

Decisions on whether to implement the commission's recommendations will rest with the governor and state lawmakers when they convene the 2007 session in January.