Some movement on Pa. transportation funding plan

    After days of false starts, a plan to fund Pennsylvania’s roads, bridges, and mass transit cleared a state House committee vote Thursday.

    The roughly $2 billion proposal has received bipartisan support, though many Democrats say they still have concerns it provides too little money for mass transit. They suggest the funding plan be completely retooled, with money coming from the implementation of a severance tax on natural gas.

    That’s an option that’s just not on the table, said Rep. Mike McGeehan, D-Philadelphia.

    “We have to deal with the hand that’s dealt us. And right now the hand that’s in front of the committee was Senate Bill 1 and the amendment,” he said. “I wish … it rained ice cream too but, you know, it doesn’t.”

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    Transportation Committee Chairman Dick Hess says he’s open to more changes to the plan when it’s up for a vote before the full House.

    “Sure, there’s things in here that maybe I don’t really care for or one of the other members don’t care for but as long as we’re advancing something, it’s going to be better for the general public as a whole,” said Hess, R-Bedford. “We have to do it.”

    Amendments, he said, could come on Saturday.

    Eliminated from the plan are such flashpoints as higher license and registration fees and prevailing wage reforms.The plan calls for gradually uncapping a tax paid by gas stations over five years. It would hike fines for moving violations, as well as increase taxes on tires and vehicle leases.

    Under the plan, local governments would have to pay more of the share for their mass transit, and they would be permitted to raise certain taxes to do so.

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