PA Legislature Opens Special Session on Transportation FundingJune 2010 – Newsletters In the Zone
The Pennsylvania state legislature began its special session on infrastructure funding on May 4, 2010. The large number of state roads and bridges falling into disrepair, increased traffic congestion and widening gaps in funding prompted Governor Rendell to call for a funding solution from the legislature. While the legislature is still struggling with ways to cope with the state's $1.1 billion general budget funding gap, some lawmakers are examining mechanisms to raise an additional $500 million solely for critical infrastructure expenses.
According to the governor, Pennsylvania is home to 5,646 structurally deficient bridges and 7,000 miles of roadways in desperate need of repair. And, the administration and Democratic lawmakers are advocating a variety of different revenue-raising taxes and fees. Such ideas include increasing the state gas tax by as much as 12 cents per gallon (currently at 31 cents); levying new taxes on large oil companies; increasing vehicle registration fees; creating public-private roadways where a private company builds and tolls a roadway; leasing the Pennsylvania turnpike; and, tolling parts of interstate roadways, despite the recent rejection by the federal government to allow tolling on I-80.
Cost-cutting plans are also under consideration such as merging PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission as well as the reduction of state employees at PennDOT. While Governor Rendell stated it would be disastrous for Pennsylvania if lawmakers do nothing to resolve the state's infrastructure revenue woes, lawmakers seem more intent on working on the state's general budget first.