Many of Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges are in terrible shape, according to PennDOT and state leaders.
State lawmakers are now debating how to pay to fix them and we all will likely be on the hook.
The Senate passed a transportation bill late Wednesday afternoon, setting the stage for the House of Representatives to vote Thursday.
Lawmakers in Harrisburg are calling the increases in gas taxes and drivers’ fees a “user fee” for those who ride on the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.
The repairs that PennDOT and state leaders claim are desperately needed will most likely be paid for by us all.
One week ago, there was little indication lawmakers in Harrisburg could agree on how to pay for the state’s transportation needs.
Then, a house vote Tuesday set the stage for a Senate vote Wednesday afternoon.
Now, the $2.4 billion transportation funding bill is the closest yet to becoming law.
Senate members debated the increases in gas taxes that could end up costing drivers nearly $ .30 within five years.
Drivers’ license fees and vehicle registrations would go up gradually, even the cost for a vanity plate would make a big jump
“I’m elected to fix this problem, fixing the problem of these deficient bridges and roadways,” said Representative Karen Boback, (R) 117th District.
Representative Boback voted against the bill Monday in the House then, voted for it the next day. She said she heard an earful from people in her Back Mountain district.
Senator John Yudichak, (D) 14th District, voted for the full bill he said is about jobs.
He said the state missed an opportunity to find the money in the natural gas industry.
“We’re going to have to elect a new governor to get a severance tax. This governor has been clear, he’s not going to do a severance tax,” said Sen. Yudichak.
But for Senator John Gordner, (R) 27th District, the bill would mean paying for a long-awaited thruway project between Snyder and Northumberland counties.
“Come Thursday, if everything goes well, that project is guaranteed to be done,” said Gordner. “I’m guaranteeing it.”
If the bill passes the House and the governor signs it into law, businesses in the Selinsgrove area will both benefit from the thruway and end up paying for it.
Business leaders say that’s O.K.
“They look at this as nothing’s free in this world, if you put money up front and get value in return, then it’s a good thing,” said Jim Barbarich, Interim President of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The House is expected to vote on the more than $2 billion transportation bill Thursday, and the governor could sign it into law soon after.