Transportation Funding Bill Passes PA Senate Committee
In a 14-1 vote, the Senate Transportation Committee reported out a comprehensive transportation funding reform bill on May 7 with bipartisan support. The legislation, SB 1 (PN 1026), is now before the Senate, where action is expected soon.
SB 1 would increase the state’s annual transportation investment by $2.5 billion for the entire transportation system and builds on Gov. Tom Corbett’s transportation funding proposal from earlier this year. The current legislation follows the major recommendations made by the governor’s 2011 Transportation Funding Advisory Commission. PSATS had two seats on this commission: Assistant Executive Director Elam M. Herr and Jim Decker, a supervisor for Stroud Township in Monroe County.
The bill would raise new revenue for transportation by:
- extending the renewal period for vehicle registrations from one to two years and driver licenses from four to six years and adjusting these fees for inflation since the last increase;
- upping fines for traffic violations and surcharging drivers who violate traffic laws;
- uncapping the Oil Company Franchise Tax over three years; and
- achieving cost savings by modernizing many PennDOT services.
In addition, the cents per gallon tax would be reduced from 12 cents to 10 cents over 2 years but would be restored to 12 cents in the third year.
With full implementation, this proposal would provide approximately $1.9 billion annually for Pennsylvania’s state and local highways and bridges, and projections show roughly $200 million in new annual liquid fuels funding for municipalities, a significant increase from the current $300 million.
The proposal would also give local governments the opportunity to participate in a new bridge bundling program in which the local match would be reduced by up to 100 percent. Another proposal would allow municipalities in a traffic corridor to enter into an agreement to give the commonwealth the responsibility for replacing traffic signals while the municipalities would continue to be responsible for the maintenance, coordination, and timing of the signals. Finally, a new multimodal transportation funding program would create competitive grants for a variety of transportation modes, including bicycle and pedestrian facilities, as well as roads and bridges.
SB 1 is the best transportation funding proposal for local governments that we have seen in many years, and it has bipartisan support. PSATS will continue to work with the administration and the General Assembly to move the transportation funding plan forward in the weeks ahead. Expect to hear more about this top priority issue in the coming weeks!