State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Fate unknown for traffic penalty surcharge

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 28, 2013 10:45 PM
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A transportation funding bill is still stuck in park, and, as negotiations continue, the fate of one of its more controversial mechanisms for generating revenue is still unsettled.

The state Senate's plan to fund infrastructure includes tacking a $100 surcharge onto certain traffic violations, like speeding tickets. Most of the money generated would go toward mass transit. The Senate projected the surcharge would raise as much as $75 million in the first year of implementation.

Many House lawmakers balked, and Republican Speaker Sam Smith said last week that odds are the surcharge won't make it into any final plan.

"We don't agree with their revenue estimate, if you will, on that," Smith said. "So it kind of melts away the ice on that."

Flatly ignoring revenue projections is only possible because some police said they'd stop writing speeding tickets if the surcharge made it into law.

But the Senate's Democratic minority leader says spiking the surcharge would leave mass transit in the lurch.

"That goes directly to the heart of the transit funding, which we believe is very essential," Jay Costa said.

He insists the surcharge be replaced with another funding mechanism to ensure buses and rail lines are funded. "If they're not in favor of that, we understand that," Costa said, speaking of House lawmakers. "We have to ultimately resolve how we fill that slot."

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