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Politics & Government

Corbett Hails Passage of PA Highways Bill

After more than a year of discussion, the state has a transportation plan in place.

A $2.3 billion plan to fund roads, bridges, mass transit, airports, waterways, bike paths and more has passed the state House and heads to the governor’s desk.

Gov. Tom Corbett is hailing passage of new transportation bill, saying he perceived an urgent need to fix roads and bridges after he took office three years ago.

The Republican spoke Thursday shortly after legislative approval of a law to pump billions into transportation infrastructure and mass transit.

The state House voted 113-to-85 in favor of the bill, which will phase in $2.3 billion in fees and taxes over five years. Corbett's office says he plans to sign it next week.

Corbett says he doesn't think the new taxes and fees bill break the categorical opposition to new taxes he expressed when running for governor in 2010.

He says the money will make the state safer and foster economic growth.

The bill does, however, include things that members of both parties disliked.

Chief among them is the move to uncap the tax on the wholesale price of gas, which until this week was a deal-killer for many House Republicans.

Republican Rep. Seth Grove of York County says lifting the cap doesn’t mean a proportionate increase to the price of gas at the pump.

"It’s crude oil that drives the price," he said. "We’re not providing a tax directly on the consumer. The tax is going to be set by the market price."

Many Democrats chafed at the idea of changing state law to allow smaller public works projects to pay lower wages to labor.

The measure also increases a slew of motorist fees and ties the cost of vehicle registrations and license renewals to the rate of inflation.

The plan allows the speed limit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and other freeways to increase from 65 to 70 miles per hour.