Governor Rendell, Transportation Secretary Outline Options to Generate $1 Billion to Fix Ailing State, Local Transportation Systems

Majority of Funds Could Come from Oil Companies Without Affecting Consumers

The General Assembly could vote this fall to generate approximately $1 billion needed to improve the safety of state and local transportation systems and create jobs, Governor Edward G. Rendell and Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., said today.

"Across Pennsylvania, and in both chambers of the General Assembly, there is strong consensus that our transportation systems are failing and something needs to be done now," Governor Rendell said, noting that both the House and Senate held numerous hearings on the issue throughout the summer.

A poll taken last week confirmed that 95 percent of Pennsylvanians believe that the quality of our transportation infrastructure matters to the state's economy and 74 percent would support taxing the profits of oil companies to pay for the needed improvements. By a margin of 48 percent to 45 percent, residents favored increasing vehicle fees, some of which have not been raised in more than three decades, consistent with inflation to help pay for transportation infrastructure.

"This poll indicates that the road we must take is not problematic and we have a chance to do something of vital importance that benefits Pennsylvanians now and in the future," the Governor said. "I think we should do more than these options provide, but legislators have told me that in an election year the political appetite in Harrisburg is too small to meet the full needs.

"Every month we delay, the cost of repairs goes up. The time for legislative action is now, otherwise future generations will pay a much higher cost," the Governor added, noting that a project that cost only $300,000 in 1987 would cost more than $720,000 to complete today.

Following the Governor's remarks, Biehler addressed a joint, bipartisan meeting of the House and Senate to outline two options that could be implemented this fall and in place by January. The measures would raise nearly $1 billion in the first full fiscal year and cost the average Pennsylvania driver approximately 33 cents per week:

  • An 8 percent tax on the gross profits of oil companies doing business in Pennsylvania. Companies paying the tax would be exempt from the 9.99 percent Corporate Net Income tax. The new oil company tax would raise $576 million the first full fiscal year. Oil companies would be legally barred from passing the increase on to consumers.
  • Increasing a variety of license, registration and vehicle fees, some of which have not been raised since 1977. For example, the four-year drivers' license fee would increase from $21 to $25 (the $7 photo charge would remain unchanged). The annual registration fee for a passenger car would increase from $36 to $49. The fee for a certificate of title would increase from $22.50 to $31.

"This much-needed infusion of money will help keep bridges and roads safe and smooth and create jobs and prosperity across Pennsylvania," Biehler said. "Based on feedback from residents and legislators, this plan offers a realistic way to deal with the clearly demonstrated transportation needs.

"The latest poll findings clearly show the people of Pennsylvania understand that transportation funding is critical to the state's future and the time for ensuring adequate investment in highways, bridges and public transit is now," Biehler added.

Despite significant additional investments in recent years, Pennsylvania has 5,646 state-owned structurally deficient bridges – leading the nation in the number of such spans and exceeding the total number of similarly deficient bridges from Virginia to Maine, combined. There are more than 10,000 miles of state roads in need of repair, with 7,000 miles of those classified as in "poor" condition.

A copy of Secretary Biehler's presentation, a list of state-owned road and bridge projects in every county that could be completed with additional funding and details of the recent transportation funding survey are available online at www.FundPATransportationNow.com.


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