By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
Possible new revenue sources to get transportation work done in Pennsylvania have received a shot in the arm. A senior Republican lawmaker announced plans Wednesday, Oct. 19, to introduce legislation to raise about $2.5 billion for transportation projects throughout the state.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman, R-Centre, said the state needs to start moving forward with plans to fix crumbling roads and bridges, as well as public transit systems. He said he plans to unveil a legislative package that would implement many of the recommendations of a governor-appointed task force to address transportation funding.
Corman said truckers and others are already paying the price for an underfunded transportation system.
“Factoring in vehicle damage, time loss due to degraded or overcrowded roadways, and reduced options to effectively and efficiently move products,” Corman said in a statement. Transportation users “continue to pay more and get nothing in return for an overstressed system.”
The Transportation Funding Advisory Commission delivered its final report to Gov. Tom Corbett nearly three months ago. The report includes recommendations to raise nearly $2.7 billion in new funding within five years.
Among the group’s recommendations to boost revenue are ending a cap on the tax on wholesale fuel prices, and higher vehicle and driver registration fees.
Lifting a cap on the oil company franchise tax would increase the per-gallon tax on diesel by about 19 cents and the tax on gas by about 14 cents over five years. Currently, the tax applies only to the first $1.25 per gallon of the wholesale price.
Eliminating the cap would raise about $1.36 billion in five years – which would be nearly half of the money sought by the commission.
Other recommendations include increasing fines for certain traffic offenses by $50. A $100 surcharge would be added to vehicle offenses that result in points against a driver’s license.
Transit funding would also get a $200 million boost at the start. By the fifth year new revenue would amount to nearly $430 million.
Also recommended is authorization for public-private partnerships to get transportation projects completed, as well as tolling authority on existing interstates.
The report encourages action due to anticipation that the funding need for transportation in the state is expected to triple from $3.5 billion now to $10.7 billion by 2030.
Since the report was released, Corbett has yet to announce which sections of the report he accepts or rejects. While an announcement from the Republican governor is expected soon, Corman and other lawmakers are likely to start moving forward with efforts to encourage discussion on the issue.
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