PennDOT: New report suggests best alternatives to Pennsylvania’s gas tax

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — There’s still a long trail ahead for one of Pennsylvania’s most notorious funding shortfalls — roads. Love them or hate them, a new report from the Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC) has compiled a number of funding recommendations for the state’s aging transportation network, like mileage-based fees, tolling, taxes and fees.

On March 12, Governor Tom Wolf tasked the commission with developing a number of recommendations to fill the $8.8 billion annual budget needed to keep the state-owned transportation system “in a state of good repair.”

“The stark reality is that PennDOT’s $8.8 billion annual budget must more than double—to approximately $18.15 billion—to adequately address transportation system needs,” wrote the commission in their report.

One of the best long-term funding solutions offered; Mileage-Based User Fees (MBUF). These essentially charge drivers a fee per mile traveled. The commission says the fees would provide “the ultimate replacement for the phasing-out of the gas tax.”

The state’s reasons for phasing out the gas tax are two-part.

“Approximately 75% of PennDOT’s highway and bridge funding comes from federal and state gas tax revenue, which continues to decline,” the commission said. “Fuel economy improvements and the transition to alternative fuels and electric vehicles—positive trends in themselves—will continue to reduce gasoline and diesel consumption, and, therefore, the revenue from the Liquid Fuels tax.

Additionally, TROC says the state will require additional funding each year as costs rise and funding levels remain static.

“We’ve long advocated for several of the suggested solutions, including fair electric vehicle user fees, a delivery fee for goods and services and the complete removal of the State Police from the Motor License Fund,” said Robert Latham, TROC workgroup leader and executive vice president of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors.

TROC says another source of revenue could be derived from tolling, which only affects those who are actively using the road, and relies on existing technology. However, the commission says it could create a diversion to lower-volume routes.

To take a deeper dive into TROCs full report and to look at the funding reccommendations, click here.

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