HARRISBURG – Citing the significant deterioration of roads and bridges in the Pocono region, Reps. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) and Mike Peifer (R-Monroe/Pike/Wayne) and Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Monroe/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) voted this week to invest more money in the state’s transportation infrastructure.
“Pennsylvania relies on fuel and use taxes to fund our highway maintenance and construction, which means those who use the roads and bridges are responsible for their costs,” the legislators explained. “We have listened to the thousands of complaints we’ve heard about the roads not being properly maintained, about the additional expenses businesses are incurring because of detours around closed and weight-restricted bridges, and about the repair costs associated with substandard road conditions.”
“The package represents a considerable investment in the future, for economic progress and for public safety, and clears the way for action on more of our transportation priorities in this area over the coming years,” Baker said. “While I understand and appreciate that many people do not want to pay any more in taxes and fees, our transportation needs are too large and too serious to delay action any longer. The variety of funding sources utilized should work to reduce the eventual impact on the price of gas at the pump.”
The bulk of the revenue will be generated by a change in the way the state’s gasoline is taxed. Specifically, the bill eliminates the current 12-cent flat tax consumers pay at the pump and instead moves fully to the Oil Company Franchise Tax (OCFT), which is paid by oil companies at the wholesale level. The change will be phased-in over the next five years.
The increase in the OCFT, starting Jan. 1, 2014, is estimated at less than 10 cents per gallon. The rate will increase incrementally through 2017, when the phase-out of the cap on the OCFT is complete.
The plan also helps our communities with their responsibilities to repair local roads and bridges.
“An efficient transportation system is vital to the health of our state and local economies,” Major said. “This investment will provide increased funding to our local governments for road and bridge projects and dedicated funding needed for dirt and gravel roads. However, at its core, the primary reason for addressing our deteriorating transportation system is to better ensure the safety of our motoring public.”
“The fact is, we did not create this problem, but we cannot ignore it any longer. Our roads and bridges are in terrible condition, and without an additional influx of funds, the problem will only get worse,” Peifer said. “Doing nothing was not an option. There are a lot of good things in this legislation, and I feel confident we will see a solid return on this investment in ourselves.”
House Bill 1060 is awaiting the governor’s signature.