PA not alone in considering funding solutions

January 29, 2013

Pennsylvania’s impending transportation funding initiative puts the Keystone State into the national discussion of states that are grappling for solutions to transportation funding needs.

A story last week in USA Today gave an overview of how states are handling this growing national problem, which has been worsened by lack of consensus in Washington about transportation funding in particular and federal transportation policy in general.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has drawn considerable interest for his proposal to eliminate the state’s consumption tax on gasoline for replace it with a sales tax. His rationale is that a consumption tax is not viable due to increasing fuel efficiency, alternative fuels and hybrids.

Some transportation policy experts are critical, however, saying it would eliminate the “more-you-drive, the-more-you-pay” element inherent in fuel taxes. Many believe that a vehicle-miles-traveled approach, which Oregon has been testing with pilot projects, is the ultimate answer.

Some states, including Pennsylvania, are looking at multiple funding mechanisms, from indexing the user tax to inflation, to higher license and registration fees to tolling.

“The bottom line is that transportation funding is a problem facing most or all states, and the need for funding increases is nearly universal,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “That’s not surprising given the lack of action at the federal level. It has been clear to us for some time that states are better situated to address this problem.”


One Comment on this post.

  1. Rich H
    February 2, 2013 at 4:39 am
  2. Pennsylvania’s multi-tier approach is the best solution for Pennsylvania in this day and age. A Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) is ultimately a good and fair solution but we’re not ready for it without transponders in all vehicles and/or receivers on all roadways. I agree with the article that a sales tax surcharge taxes those who spend more, and not those who use the roads more; but perhaps for Virginia it is today’s solution, while they work for an ultimate solution like implementing VMT (Oregon probably has fewer drivers and roadways than does the Commonwealth of Virginia). I also agree with Mr. Wagner’s assessments, that transportation funding is a universal challenge, and each state can find a solution that works for it in the near term. In the long term, as technology is implemented, other solutions may present themselves and states can toll for miles driven on all roadways.