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Development & Transportation

Transportation Funding Report Could Launch Years Of Debate

Highway transportation driving vehicles parkway infrastructure.JPG
Margaret Sun
/
90.5 WESA

A transportation funding commission is preparing to recommend how to raise billions more dollars in Pennsylvania for a 21st-century highway system, a report that will land at a politically touchy time and is expected to kick off a debate that could last years.

The report, expected this week from the Transportation Revenue Options Commission, was ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf in March to find ways to replace Pennsylvania's gas tax.

It is expected to contain a blend of recommendations, including corridor tolling, goods delivery fees and higher vehicle fees and taxes, but the primary revenue-raiser will be a vehicle-miles-traveled fee.

The report comes amid a stalemate over financing highways and public transit in Pennsylvania, and as states increasingly experiment with a vehicle-miles-traveled fee to replace long-stagnant gas tax collections.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor, R-York, said it is a difficult time to raise taxes and fees, as the economy rebounds from the pandemic, and he predicted no action before 2023, at the earliest.

He also questioned whether it will be necessary for a vehicle-miles-traveled fee to be imposed nationally, rather than state-by-state.

However, Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee, said it is better to be at the front of the line of states in making the change, rather than at the end.