State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Senate GOP transportation plan unveiled: would raise $2.5 B

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 16, 2013 3:02 PM

Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

The state Senate GOP was out in force Tuesday morning, showing support for their Transportation Committee chairman's $2.5 billion measure to fund transportation infrastructure -- including bridge repairs, road expansions, mass transit, and even planning for bicycle lanes.

The proposal is the first legislative follow-up to Gov. Corbett's roll-out months ago of his own $1.8 billion plan.

"We've used that as the base for our plan," said Rafferty (R-Montgomery). "We recognize the need to do a little bit more in the way of transportation funding to meet the needs of the commonwealth going forward."

By a little bit more, he's referring to the roughly $700 million bump in transportation funding, which would come in part from uncapping a tax paid by gas stations in a shorter period of time than Corbett proposed. But other things would generate that money that come at an even higher political price: raising driver's license and registration fees (or as Rafferty said, "adjusting" them for inflation), as well as adding a $100 dollar surcharge on top of moving violations, like tickets for speeding and running red lights.

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch wouldn't commit the Corbett administration's seal of approval, but he did say if the plan comes to a hard stop in the legislature, PennDOT's annual construction expenditure will go from about two billion dollars to one-point six billion this year.

"That's a drop of $400 million and probably would induce about 12,000 layoffs in the supply/construction industry if we don't do anything on this bill," he said.

Senate Republican leaders, who stood on stage behind Rafferty Tuesday morning, are supporting the measure. Senate Democrats don't appear keen on standing in its way. But some GOP members in the House already appear to be putting the brakes on it, leery of voting for something that would increase motorist costs.

"Our members are acting on what they ran on," said House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin.

Schoch said by the third year of the plan's implementation, it would cost the average Pennsylvania driver an additional two to three dollars a week.

Rafferty said he doesn't see a need to hold hearings on his proposal and hopes to schedule a committee vote to advance it in the legislature within the next few weeks.


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