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Committee moves $2 billion transportation package to full House for vote

Tom Fontaine

A $2 billion transportation funding package shifted out of neutral on Thursday and moved from the state House Transportation Committee to the full chamber for consideration.

“Hopefully we can try to amend this on the House floor to add more money,” said Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg.

The package is smaller and increases funding more slowly than one the Senate passed this month, which was projected to generate $2.5 billion annually for transportation within three years.

House committee amendments — approved in a 16-9 vote — would generate $2 billion a year within five years.

“You could go a lot farther and get a lot more money,” said Transportation Chairman Dick Hess, R-Bedford. “We tried to look at it, too, from a consumer standpoint.”

The House plan eliminates a proposed $100 surcharge on traffic tickets and hikes in registration and driver’s license fees in the Senate plan.

The House would impose a $75 fine for “failure to obey traffic control devices,” a catch-all offense that does not add points to a driver’s record.

The offense now carries a $25 fine. The Senate bill proposed raising it $100 to $300.

The House plan would make transit agencies gradually come up with more local money to support operations and capital projects.

Local governments would have more ways to get the money: The plan would allow them to raise real estate transfer taxes up to 0.5 percent; earned income taxes up to 0.2 percent; and sales and use taxes up to 0.25 percent. It would let counties impose $5 vehicle registration fees for local transportation projects.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike’s annual payments to PennDOT would drop from $450 million to $250 million.

The House plan relies heavily on uncapping the oil company franchise tax that wholesalers pay. The Senate plan would do that over three years; the House committee approved doing so in five.

House Transportation Minority Chairman Michael P. McGeehan, D-Montgomery County, said he hopes to see funding increase through deliberations in the full House.

“I would characterize this as half a step,” he said.

Tom Fontaine is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or [email protected].


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