The Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee this week begins a series of hearings on the huge hole in funding for transportation. Governor Ed Rendell wants lawmakers to find new revenue sources for transportation infrastructure. Among the measures he’d accept: increases in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees, and a tax on oil companies.
He’s pushing for a tax on oil companies.
"Most of the oil companies, who sell 12 billion gallons of gasoline a year in Pennsylvania – most of the oil companies pay very little in state taxes. That would remedy this dramatically. That’s what I’m for. But would I sign anything else in the package? Yes I would."
Rendell is urging lawmakers to address the nearly $500 million funding gap. Rendell and legislative leaders counted on tolling of Interstate 80 but the federal Department of Transportation’s rejected that idea.
One of the options Rendell’s calling for is a 3.25 cent gas tax increase, which the governor says drivers “probably would not even notice.”
Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson says Rendell is “flat-out wrong.”
"People certainly would notice a gas tax increase. It’s something that would hit them in the pocketbook every time they fill up. And although three cents a gallon may not be much for one fill up, it certainly adds up over time and it certainly has a disproportionate impact on the people who can afford it the least."
Rendell says the gas tax isn’t his preferred funding source, but that he’d sign the bill if it reaches his desk.The governor is calling for a special session on transportation to re-convene August 23rd. But Arneson says the Senate isn’t returning to Harrisburg until mid-September.