To be or not to be…that is the question

September 16, 2010

Two Pennsylvania House members have introduced legislation to address the Commonwealth’s transportation funding problem.

House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) introduced a single bill that would generate an additional $1.3 billion annually for the Commonwealth’s highways and public transit agencies. Evans introduced the bill on behalf of Gov. Ed Rendell.

Rep. Rick Geist (R-Altoona), minority chairman of the House Transportation Committee, introduced his previously announced series of 11 bills that include funding and reform measures. His proposals would appear to generate a level of revenue closer to the $3.5 billion identified by the Transportation Advisory Committee as the current annual shortfall.

It is unclear whether there is enough legislative support to enact any of the proposals.

House Bill 8, the Evans measure, would generate funds from three key areas, some of which are controversial among industry and legislators. For highways, approximately $785 million annually would be derived from increased vehicle and driver licensing fees, from a new gross profits tax on oil companies, and by increasing the millage of the Oil Company Franchise tax to a level that would represent an equivalent of about 6.5 cents per gallon at the pump.  Additionally, the bill contains provisions to allow for Public-Private Partnerships.  The summary of the bill can be found here and the PPP provisions can be found here.

The state’s public transit systems would receive just over $500 million from the gross profits tax and some non-restricted vehicle fees that are not currently obligated to fund highways. For a full summary of the proposal, click here.

The Geist bills would enable public-private partnerships for transportation projects, raise the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax, shift funding for the State Police out of the Motor License Fund, extend for three years the use of Turnpike revenue for other transportation projects, authorize Pennsylvania to apply for tolling I-95, increase local funding for public transit and provide for local revenue options, add two members to the Turnpike Commission, establish a pilot program for privatizing highway maintenance services, streamline the construction process and authorize a study of converting from the current tax on fuel consumption to a miles-traveled fee. For more information, click here.

“PHIA will continue to advocate for a long-term, comprehensive funding program that addresses our state’s infrastructure needs well into the future,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “It remains to be seen whether these efforts will accomplish that, or whether they will attract the majority required for passage, but we commend any efforts to move this issue forward.”

2 Comments on this post.

  1. John McCaskie
    September 17, 2010 at 3:32 pm
  2. If the governor was really serious he would pay more attention to reports of his blue ribbon commission and set his goals for a long term solution rather than more of the same old fraction of the needs.

    September 17, 2010 at 9:00 pm
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