The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

June 30, 2013

House Republicans can't seal transportation deal

Rural reps, Dems won't go for tax hike



Earlier Saturday, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County, tweeted that he had a “heated exchange with a (House Republican) leader.”

“I strongly voiced my objections in a Republican Caucus meeting yesterday regarding the proposed gas tax increase,” Metcalfe said.

“I let them know that if they went against a majority of Republicans to pass the gas tax with Democrat votes then they should not be re-elected as leaders.”  

Rep. Dick Stevenson, R-Mercer County, said that he understands the concerns of those who oppose the plan over the tax increase.

But, he is in favor of the transportation plan because there has been a “demonstrated need” for highway and bridge repairs since the days of the Rendell Administration, Stevenson said. State leaders have struggled though to come up with a workable plan for paying for the transportation construction, he said.

Stevenson said that lawmakers had been prepared to attach an amendment to the transportation plan that would have eliminated the 12 cents-a-gallon state sales tax on gas in exchange for the increase in the wholesale Oil Company Franchise Tax. Most analysts believe that increasing that wholesale tax will translate into a 25-28 cent a gallon increase in price at the pump.

After the House abruptly adjourned for the night Saturday without addressing transportation, Keller conceded that “We will meet our Constitutional obligation to pass a budget on time,” but other accomplishments are now in doubt.

There are close to 100 potential amendments to the transportation plan that lawmakers have submitted and one of them might offer a pathway to passing the measure, Keller said.

The Legislature is expected to return to Harrisburg on July 1 to finish its work, but whether that will include further discussion of the transportation plan is unclear.

“I am less optimistic now than I was a couple days ago,” Keller said.


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