PA State Senator John Rafferty introduced legislation this past week which addresses our funding crisis. The legislation is similar to the plan described by Governor Corbett in his budget address earlier this year except that it would be phased in over three years (instead of the Governor’s five year plan) and would provide $2.6B as opposed to the Governor’s $1.9B. The $2.6B is consistent with the Funding Commissions recommended level of funding.
Full details of the legislation have not been made available and it appears that there may be some resistence to these funding levels. The increased revenue would come at an increased fuel cost to the average motorist (who drives 12,000 miles per year) in the range of $2.50 to $3.00 per week.
The benefits to motorist and to all citizens would be reduced costs for vehicle maintenance (thanks to the improved roads and bridges), the creation of thousands of jobs across the state, and improved economic conditions associated with better roads, bridges, and mass transit system.
This legislation makes sense in that it is directly relating the collection of revenue with the users of the transportation system. It will be critical that this legislation move forward quickly if it is to have any chance of passing. The State Legislature has numerous issues to address (Pension Reform, Liquor Store Sale, State Budge) this year. With election season on the horizon lets hope that the political will exists to address these issues.
Also this week, State Representative Donna Oberlander introduced legislation which would abolish the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and would turn the toll roads over to PennDOT control. Legislation to eliminate the Turnpike Commission has been introduced several times recently but has not gotten traction in the legislature. The question at hand is whether one organization could more efficiently serve the transportation needs of the state.