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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

Governor Signs $2.3 Billion Transportation Funding Bill

Wednesday, November 27, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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TruckHARRISBURG - Monday, Governor Corbett signed into law a $2.3 billion transportation bill that will provide funds for bridge and highway repairs across the state by raising taxes on gasoline and fees on vehicle registrations, drivers’ licenses and other PennDOT services.

The new transportation funding bill gives the Governor one of the three priorities he set out last February in his budget address. The other two priorities, privatization of the state liquor system and public pension reform, still seem far from the goal line.

The new transportation law will impact the green industry in several ways, some positive and some negative.

First, the positives. The new funding will help PennDOT whittle down a long list of highway and bridge repair and maintenance priorities.

The Governor’s Transportation Funding Commission estimated that there are currently $3.5 billion in unmet transportation needs annually. Last summer, PennDOT put about one thousand deficient bridges on weight restrictions, causing lengthy detours for many trucks.

Of the $2.3 billion to be generated annually by the new law when fully implemented, $1.8 billion is set aside for maintenance and road improvement projects. The remainder will go for public transit and other transportation modes.

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said that the recently imposed weight restrictions on bridges will be removed if improvements are scheduled to take place within two years. Weight restrictions on some bridges could be removed within three to four months, according to Schoch. Road and highway projects will begin in earnest next spring.

Another section of the new law will allow PennDOT to raise the speed limit to 70 mph on some sections of interstate highways. This will happen as soon as PennDOT conducts studies of highway sections that could safely handle the increased speeds.

On the negative side, we all will pay for the improved highways and bridges with a new gasoline tax and increased fees on many PennDOT services, such as vehicle registrations and drivers licenses.

While the new law repeals the current 12 cent per gallon gasoline tax, it is replaced by an increase over five years in the wholesale oil company franchise tax which will max out at 28.5 cents. How much of this wholesale tax will be passed on to the retail customer is open to some debate, but it’s not hard to imagine most if not all of it being borne by retail customers.  

With this new tax, Pennsylvania will move from 15th to 5th in its level of gasoline tax among states.

Fees that will increase include:

·         Certificate of title from $22.50 to $50.

·         Vanity plates from $20 to $76

·         Drivers’ license now $29.50 will increase tied to inflation after 2015

·         Auto registration now $36 will increase tied to inflation after 2015, plus counties will be able to add $5 for their coffers (collected by PennDOT).

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