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Sen. John Rafferty wants $2.5B for transportation in 3 years

By - Last modified: April 16, 2013 at 3:18 PM

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State Sen. John Rafferty, joined by House and Senate members of both parties, unveiled a transportation funding proposal that would add $2.5 billion in three years for roads, bridges, mass transit and other transportation sectors.

The plan calls for uncapping the oil company franchise tax levied on the wholesale price of gasoline and diesel over three years as well as inflationary increases to license and vehicle registration fees for drivers to reach that number, Rafferty said.

“This was a tough decision to make, but it’s necessary,” said Rafferty, a Republican representing parts of Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.

Most of the suggestions follow recommendations from the Governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, he said.

By the third year, the tax cap phase-out is expected generate nearly $1.8 billion and combined with license and registration fee increases would generate $1.9 billion for roads and bridges, he said.

Similar to Gov. Tom Corbett’s transportation funding plan as part of his budget proposal, Rafferty’s would call for reduction in the liquid fuels and fuels taxes. The Rafferty plan, called “Bridge to Pennsylvania’s Future,” calls for a 3-cent reduction over two years worth $178 million.

“We’ve used (the governor’s plan) as a base for our proposal,” Rafferty said.

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch praised Republican and Democratic legislators for working together on the proposal and said Corbett is still open to negotiations on the final bill. Corbett’s plan had called for $1.8 billion over five years.

A key part of Rafferty’s bill is an eight-year timetable to phase out Act 44, the 2007 law that requires the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to make payments to the state to support other roads and bridges.

“We’re trying to address Act 44 and get out from under it,” Rafferty said.

The bill includes passenger car registration increases from $36.50 to $104 for a two-year registration, and license increases from $29.50 to $50.50 for a six-year license, Rafferty said.

Traffic violations also would be treated more severely, with surcharges of $100 to go to transportation funding as well as a sliding scale of $100 to $300 in surcharges for “failure to obey traffic control device” violations.

The proposal also garnered support from a wide array of business, labor, transportation and advocacy groups, many of whom were on hand at the event in the capitol this morning.

“We’re in this together,” said Sen. John Wozniak, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, in supporting Rafferty’s bill. Wozniak represents Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, clinton and Somerset counties.

The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Harrisburg Regional Chamber, West Shore Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers are listed as supporters of the proposal.

Rafferty said the time for hearings on transportation funding is done after two years of that, and he expects his bill to go to committee votes and the amendment process within the next couple of weeks.

 

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jimr@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JimTRyanCPBJ.

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