Governor Ed Rendell kicked off a special legislative session by urging lawmakers to address Pennsylvania’s funding gap for transportation projects and mass transit.
The state had budgeted billions of dollars in revenue from I-80 tolls over the coming years, but the federal government recently rejected Pennsylvania’s tolling application.
Governor Rendell is asking lawmakers to fill that budget gap with new revenue sources.
"Make the oil companies pay a profits tax. Our oil companies together – they pump over 12 and a half billions of gallons of gasoline at the pump in Pennsylvania, and they pay less than 65 million dollars in taxes. It’s a disgrace."
Rendell says leasing the Turnpike to a private company is another way to generate the money to repair Pennsylvania’s deficient roads and bridges.
During his speech to a joint legislative session, Rendell said smaller-scale measures could generate transportation dollars, as well.
He mentioned an increased gas tax and higher driver's license and vehicle registration fees, as three suggestions.
However, State Representative Jim Christiana of Beaver County joined other Republican lawmakers in denouncing Rendell's proposed tax and fee increases.
"We need responsible solutions - NOW. Unfortunately, Governor Rendell is, once again, calling on hard-working Pennsylvania families to bail him out. His futile second attempt to toll Interstate 80 was the final straw in creating our transportation funding mess.
Christiana says tax, borrow and spend seem to be the governor's solution to everything. But Christiana did say he's happy the governor touted public-private partnerships as a revenue source such as the leasing of the turnpike.