An offer you can’t refuse

August 26, 2010

Editorial pages throughout Pennsylvania have become strong advocates for addressing the transportation funding problem. This week, the Harrisburg Patriot-News and Philadelphia Inquirer weighed in on the issue, and both urged the General Assembly to tackle the issue before the situation worsens.

The editorials followed Governor Rendell’s proposal on Monday to raise $1 billion annually by increasing the cost of driver licenses, vehicle registrations and an array of other vehicle-related fees, plus imposing an 8 percent tax on oil company profits.

“The Rendell plan to fix Pennsylvania’s mammoth transportation funding gap is a Band-Aid, not a fully fledged answer,” the Patriot-News asserted. The amount the administration’s proposal would raise “barely moves the meter on the $3.5 billion in additional state transportation funding Pennsylvania needs a year to simply maintain its highways, let alone undergo new construction.”  To read the complete editorial, click here.

The Inquirer said that Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi had asked the administration why it had proposed to raise $1 billion when, by acclimation, the spending gap is at least $3.5 billion per year.

“Deficient roads and bridges pose a public-safety hazard, and they cost car owners for wear and tear on their vehicles,” the Inquirer wrote. “Increased congestion causes businesses and commuters to sit in traffic an extra 38 hours per year – a work week.” To read the complete editorial, click here.

Both editorials noted the perceived difficulty of solving such a serious problem in an election year. However, two recent public opinion polls show strong and growing support by the public for addressing the issue. One showed that 58 percent of Pennsylvanians are willing to spend at least $10 per month to relieve congestion and improve safety.

“An issue that started out as one of the ‘things you can’t do in an election year’ seems to be getting a lot closer to ‘an offer you can’t refuse,’” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “The transportation system needs to be fixed, the public understands that, people are willing to make a personal investment, and delivering an adequately funded transportation program would create 50,000 jobs.  It would be pretty difficult to vote against something like that.”

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