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Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Transportation funding bill heads to full House

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 27, 2013 2:42 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

After days of false starts, a plan to fund Pennsylvania's roads, bridges, and mass transit has cleared a state House committee vote.

The roughly $2 billion proposal received bipartisan support, though many Democrats say they still have concerns it contains too little money for mass transit.

Republican Transportation Committee Chairman Dick Hess said he's open to more changes to the plan when it's up for a vote before the full House.

"Sure, there [are] things in here that maybe I don't really care for, or one of the other members don't care for," Hess said, "but as long as we're advancing something, it's going to be better for the general public as a whole."

Amendments, Hess said, could come as early as Saturday on the House floor.

Some Democrats have begun suggesting the funding plan be completely re-tooled, with money coming from the implementation of a severance tax on natural gas. But Rep. Mike McGeehan (D-Phildelphia), the ranking Democrat on the Transportation Committee, said it's just not an option on the table.

"I wish it rained ice cream, too," said McGeehan. "But, you know, it doesn't."

Eliminated from the plan are such flashpoints as higher license and registration fees and prevailing wage reforms.

The plan would phase gradually uncap a tax paid by gas stations over five years - that's where the proposal gets the bulk of the funding. It would hike fines for moving violations by $50, as well as increase taxes on tires and vehicle leases. It also increases the fine for car insurance lapses from $50 to $500.

Under the plan, local governments would have to pay more of the share for their mass transit, and they would be permitted to raise certain taxes to do so.

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