Pennsylvania transportation funding plans unveiled

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, January 05, 2012

One day into their legislative work for the year a transportation funding package was unveiled at the Pennsylvania statehouse.

Democratic state Reps. Mike Hanna of Clinton and Dan Frankel of Allegheny announced on Wednesday, Jan. 4, an initiative that identifies new revenue sources for highways, bridges and mass transit.

The legislative package, which is intended to jump-start discussions with their Republican counterparts, mirrors the recommendations of a governor-appointed advisory commission.

The Transportation Funding Advisory Commission delivered its final report to Gov. Tom Corbett during the summer. The report included recommendations to raise nearly $2.7 billion in new funding within five years.

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. Hanna said it is time for action.

“Pennsylvania’s deteriorating roads and bridges deserve a higher priority than the governor has given them,” Hanna said in a statement.

The first bill – HB2099 – would do away with a cap on the tax on wholesale fuel prices, and increase 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.

Another bill – HB2101 – includes a requirement for driver registration renewals every two years instead of annual renewals. License renewals would also double from the current four years to eight years.

A separate bill – HB2112 – would route money from the Pennsylvania Turnpike for mass transit. Specifically, it would move $450 million annually from the roadway to transit.

State law now distributes $250 million from the turnpike to transit. Another $200 million is used for roads.

The Democratic plan reflects a senior Republican lawmaker’s proposal to raise about $2.5 billion for transportation projects throughout the state. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman, R-Centre, recently introduced SB1327.

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