State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

House GOP floats a smaller transportation funding plan

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 12, 2013 12:00 PM
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State House Republicans, who couldn't muster majority support of a transportation funding plan this year, are offering a much smaller proposal to pay for infrastructure needs.

Lawmakers headed home for the summer this year after a roughly $2 billion funding plan stalled in the House. Now, House GOP staffers say a nearly $500 million plan may be coming from their quarters. The revenue would come from raising the cap on a tax paid by gas stations, with the expectation that the change could raise the price of gas by as much as seven cents per gallon. Sources say the details of the proposal as still subject to change. Supporters say the plan would pay for infrastructure must-haves, like bridge maintenance and some public transit.

Bob Latham, with Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, disagrees. He points to Maryland, where lawmakers this year approved a higher gas tax to fund transportation, and Virginia, where lawmakers approved a higher sales tax to fund such infrastructure.

"These states are going to clean our clock economically because we have short-sighted people in the General Assembly that are trying to put the brakes on this," Latham said.

Last month, PennDOT announced additional weight limits on about one thousand bridges to slow their deterioration in the light of no additional transportation funding.

Several House Republicans opposed the $2.5 billion funding plan that was passed in the Senate, because it would raise taxes paid by gas stations that could be passed along to increase the price of gas by 28 cents a gallon. Many pilloried the plan for containing too much money for mass transit.

Conventional wisdom among lawmakers and lobbyists alike is that the proposal couldn't muster support in the House, in part, because it was being used as a bargaining chip to achieve liquor privatization, opposed by both chambers' Democrats.

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