Pa. Senate OKs raising driver’s fees to fund transportation projects

    After years of calls for action and months of legislative discussions, the Pennsylvania Senate has passed a transportation funding plan.

    The plan includes higher fees for driver’s licenses and vehicle registration fees, surcharges on traffic violations, and removal of the cap on a tax paid by gas stations.

    It would raise about $700 million more than a plan offered by Gov. Tom Corbett largely by boosting fees paid directly by motorists.

    The chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee said Wednesday he knows it’s a difficult vote for some.

    “The worst thing we can do in Pennsylvania is do nothing,” said Sen. John Rafferty, R-Montgomery. “Then you’re going to see more bridges close, more bridges weight restricted, we’re going to start losing more businesses.”

    Under the proposal, by the fifth year of implementation, Pennsylvania would yield $2.5 billion annually to increase capacity and repair roads, bridges, mass transit, and ports.

    But it faces an uphill battle in the House, where some Republicans are hesitant to vote for higher fees and have indicated they would only support it if a consensus is reached on liquor privatization.

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