Local Senator Ups State Transportation Ante By A Billion

HARRISBURG PA – John Rafferty has his eye set on $2.7 billion.

John Rafferty

Sen. John Rafferty

That’s the amount the chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee – who also represents Lower Pottsgrove and Limerick townships and Pottstown Borough – wants the state to annually dedicate to improving its roads, bridges and transportation systems, The Pennsylvania Independent online news service reported Tuesday (Feb. 12, 2013).

Following Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget address last week, during which he proposed increasing a fuels tax to dedicate $1.7 billion a year for transportation infrastructure, Rafferty upped the ante.

He said he would like to see a final transportation funding plan that also increases the cost of vehicle registration and drivers’ license fees, which have not been raised since 1997. Rafferty said those increases are “under serious consideration” because they would move the final revenue figure closer to his $2.7 billion total.

Corbett’s proposal would uncap a portion of the state’s gasoline tax as the primary source of new revenue. The oil franchise tax, as it is technically known, would gradually rise over five years from the current limit — applied only to the first $1.25 of the wholesale price of gasoline. The governor’s plan would also decrease another portion of the gasoline tax by about 20 percent. Rafferty supports it, but says it’s not enough.

There appears to be bipartisan support in the state Senate for a higher level than what the governor proposed, according to The Independent.

Many lawmakers asking for more revenue point to the 2011 report from the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission – created by Corbett and chaired by PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch – that indicated Pennsylvania would need between $2.7 billion and $3.5 billion in new annual revenues to address its transportation infrastructure issues.

Schoch, who addressed the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday, said the department was prepared to meet with individual members to discuss specific projects in their districts, a key point in the process of rounding up votes for a transportation bill.

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