Joint transportation committee hears TFAC update

September 27, 2011

Members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate transportation committees opened a joint hearing Tuesday to be briefed on the recommendations of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC).

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch opened with an update on the damage caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, then followed with a summary of the TFAC report. Much of his focus was on various “modernization” initiatives that PennDOT already has begun to undertake.

He also laid out the reasoning behind the recommended lifting of the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax, explaining that unlike some previous funding proposals all transportation system users, including those who are not Pennsylvania residents, would share the burden equitably.

Robert Latham, of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, briefed committee members on public opinion research commissioned by the association. He noted that, contrary to what many believe, the public is supportive of the modest investment that the TFAC recommendations represent, beginning at 70 cents per week in the first year and growing to about $2.50 per week by the fifth year.

Rounding out the first day of testimony was Dennis Yablonsky of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, who like Latham served on the TFAC. Yablonsky noted that despite the geographically diverse, multi-modal composition of the TFAC, the recommendations were unanimously endorsed.

Committee members from both parties said they believed that solving the state’s transportation funding dilemma can occur only with strong leadership from Governor Corbett. Schoch said he believes the governor will weigh in on the issue in the near future.

The hearing will wrap up Wednesday with testimony from public transit representatives, as well as from the conservative think-tank Commonwealth Foundation.

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