The five year funding plan, outlined in the final report, could generate an additional $2.5-billion dollars in annual transportation funding. The report indicates that the governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC) was directed not to consider hiking the gas tax, leasing the turnpike, or assumed federal aid.
With those ideas off-the-table, the ultimate funding recommendations focused on adjusting driver and vehicle fees for inflation, uncapping the wholesale tax that oil companies pay and increasing fines that get funneled into the Motor License Fund.
“It’s a very fair plan because it doesn’t focus all of the costs on one segment of the motoring public,” said Bob Latham, Executive Vice President of Associated PA Constructors, and one of 40-members on the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission. “What it does seek to do is to start down that path, and increase funding gradually over a period of five years. So you won’t see a major impact to highway users, whether they’re commercial users or personal motorists.”
The impact on the typical driver – assuming no speeding tickets or other infractions – would be about $36-additional dollars in year one. By year five, it could be up to $132 dollars. But, PennDOT has said those are conservative estimates, based on all of the additional oil company tax revenue being passed onto consumers. The report does point out that TFAC is “deeply aware” of the need to minimize the burden on taxpayers. A few pages later it reads, “TFAC believes it is Pennsylvania’s best combination of options for aligning revenue with funding needs.”
Nearly all of the major recommendations would require some sort of legislative action. “Who knows, after the governor looks at it, what it’s going to look like when it goes to the legislature. Then, who knows what it’s going to look like after they have a chance to look at it,” said Jim Runk, President of the PA Motor Truck Association, and another member of the 40-member panel.
Runk was a bit leery when he was first appointed to the commission, but the feeling quickly faded. “I think after the first hour or so I was pleasantly surprised that a group that large, and with so many different backgrounds, was able to come together and talk about the issues that are important to Pennsylvania.”