A state transportation funding plan was approved Thursday by the state House, and has been sent on to Governor Tom Corbett for his signature.
Democrats once again protested the effect on the prevailing wage for public works projects and their perception of the burden on taxpayers, and they lobbied for cheaper alternatives, but the measure passed by a 113-to-85 vote.
The bill could increase the state’s wholesale gasoline tax by as much as 28 cents per gallon over five years, will raise fees for drivers licenses and vehicle registrations, and will add surcharges to fines for certain traffic violations.
In a statement released Thursday, PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch stressed the gas tax increase will be phased in over five years, and that the estimate of a 28-cent increase is based on the present estimate of the wholesale price of fuel in 2018. Schoch said the plan also eliminates the 12-cents-per-gallon liquid fuels tax. The secretary added that, currently, 39 states charge more than Pennsylvania for motor vehicle registrations, and 31 states have higher drivers license fees.
State Representative Lee James, from Oil City, was one of the lawmakers voting in favor of the funding plan. James said in a statement Thursday, “If our roads and bridges fail, our economy fails,” and he added that “the investment in our transportation infrastructure will have ripple effects throughout our economy.”