House panel advances transportation funding plan


The first comprehensive transportation plan in 15 years is again rolling down the budget highway.

A House committee (by a vote of 16-9) has approved a version of the Senate transportation bill that strips out most fines and fees and reduces overall funding.

"This is something that has to be done," said committee chairman Dick Hess (R., Bedford). "This is the best we can do for Pennsylvania at this time."

But Democrat Steve Santarsiero of Bucks County who voted aginst the bill said it did not go far enough and that transit takes a "substantial hit."

The $2.1 billion proposal would phase in the oil franchise tax over five years, which is expected to raise gas prices by as much as 25 cents a gallon.

A separate Senate proposal would have increased license and registration fees and imposed a $100 surcharge on moving violations to raise $2.5 billion. The House version removes those fees and the surcharge but increases the fine for disobeying a traffic device to $75 from $25.

The bill immediately halts the $200 million the Pennsylvania Turnpike had been ordered to pay for road and bridge maintenance under Act 44, but maintains the $250 million in annual support for mass transit. It also enables municipalities to raise local taxes for transit.

The bill also establishes an $8 per day fee on motor vehicle rentals at the Philadelphia International Airport. The fee will fund a build a multi-story parking garage for rental companies.

Gov. Corbett - who wants to pass a transportation plan by the budget deadline of June 30,  had proposed a $1.8 billion transportation plan that did not include any fee or fine increases.

In a statement released shortly after the vote he said, “Today’s vote shows that the legislature understands transportation’s importance to Pennsylvania’s safety and economy"




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