Monday, July 18, 2011

Transportation Commission Recommends New Fees, Higher Taxes To Fund Improvements

In contrast to concerns about not adopting a Marcellus Shale severance tax and funding for environmental restoration, Gov. Corbett's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission today unanimously recommended $2.7 billion in new transportation taxes and fees to finance highway, bridge and mass transit maintenance and improvements, according to reporting by
The recommendations do not include a higher gas tax, however, the biggest increase will hit motorists because the Commission proposed to uncap the Oil Company Franchise Tax on gasoline which would raise about $1.36 billion.
The changes would be phased in over five years, and according to the Commission, would cost a driver traveling 12,000 miles a year $24 the first year increasing to $26.06 the fifth year.
Overall, the proposal would provide--
-- $481 million for state highways and bridges in year one, $1.99 billion by year five;
-- $80 million for local highways and bridges in year one, $332 million by year five; and
-- $200 million for mass transit in year one, $404 million by year five.
Other recommendations include:
-- Raise the driver’s license and vehicle registration fees by the consumer price index for 2012, then raising them three percent a year annually. For vehicle registration, it would rise from $36 a year to $49. On a tractor-trailer, of 80,000 pounds, the fee would go from $1,687 to more than $2,200 annually. That would raise $412 million initially, $574 million by year five. The commission discussed raising the registration fee for truckers over five years;
-- Cap the $570 million the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation annually pays for state police;
-- Move about half of that sum, $300 million of that $570 million, from the PennDOT budget to the general fund;
-- Restructure Act 44 to move $200 million from highways to mass transit, $200 million for transit, no net change;
-- Changes to bring in $67 million initially, $222 million by year five;
-- Increase the local mass transit match to 15 of new money if local option source, small games of chance, enabled by law, is required to draw state dollars: $29 million in year two, $118 million by year five;
-- Send 2 percent of all state sales taxes to transit: $44 million in year two, $172 million by year five;
-- Modernization and cost-savings to fund roads, highways and bridges: $10 million in year one; $66 million by year five. Those would include higher fines and fees for various activities. Also nearly $6 million for renewing licenses and registration every two years; and
-- Transit fees: 2 percent of all sales tax; $172 million by mid-2016; $50 million from small games of chance for transit local share or local funding.
The final report and executive summary are available online.

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