July 28 —
It is no secret Pennsylvania's roads and bridges are in disrepair and access to transportation falls short of state needs. But no one could have guessed the course the "no new taxes" governor might take to find the money to repair a deteriorating infrastructure and transportation system.
The Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, a 40-member panel convened by Gov. Tom Corbett, announced its recommendations last week for raising about $2.7 billion a year for highways and transit.
Technically the commission, at the governor's direction, did not consider an increase in the gasoline tax at the pumps — remember "no new taxes."'
But the commission did recommend lifting a cap on the tax on wholesale gasoline and diesel fuel. And who would pay for those increases if the cap is lifted? The same Pennsylvania residents who would pay for further recommendations by the commission — higher vehicle fees, including license renewals and registrations — to adjust them for inflation.
Commission Chairman Barry Schoch, the state transportation secretary, decided the increases are modest and are needed to correct the Commonwealth's infrastructure woes.
Schoch said by the fifth year, the weekly cost to a typical driver would be an estimated $2.54. "That's less than the price of a gallon of gas to make a substantial upgrade to our transportation network," he said.
The typical motorist Schoch used to figure that cost increase is the owner of one car with average fuel economy who drives only 12,000 miles per year. That state car owner would pay $36 more for fuel in the first year and $132 more by the fifth year, when all elements of the proposal would be implemented. That figure doesn't count possible new registration and license fees.
Truck drivers who use the roads to move product around the state would pay more than $500 per year for each tractor-trailer.