Pa. panel narrows down funding sources for roads, bridges

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission has voted on recommendations on ways to come up with $2.5 billion to fix and maintain Pennsylvania deteriorating roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.

    On Monday, the panel suggested taking the cap off the tax on gasoline companies as well as hiking the costs of driver’s licenses, vehicle inspections and registrations. Taken all together, the costs filtering down to drivers would add up to about $130 a year, according to the commission.

    Barry Schoch, secretary of the state Department of Transportation and chairman of the commission, said these are just recommendations and don’t compel the governor or the Legislature to do anything.

    Schoch said the gas tax would be assessed on oil companies, not consumers at the pump.

    “We are not changing the rate of taxation with the oil company franchise tax,” he said. “We are simply correcting a legislative problem that exists with it, which is it was capped, back at a time when $1.25 seemed like an obscenely high price for a gallon of gas.”

    The commission also called on the General Assembly to pass new laws allowing tolling on all the interstates in Pennsylvania.

    Jim Runk, with the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, opposes such a plan. He says truckers won’t be able to avoid interstates, so they’ll have to eat the costs of going through tolls.

    “If you’re a trucker and you decide to use a toll road or not, you have to decide which is the best way to get that product there,” Runk said. “But you know if you do take the toll road, the shippers won’t pay for it.

    Schoch said the commission is not aggressively pursuing tolling–it just wants to see the state prepared with legislation that allows it, if federal funding for state road construction dries up one day.

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