Key Congressman Endorses Corbett Highway Plan

Scranton Times Tribune

A key congressman on highway issues endorsed Gov. Tom Corbett’s state transportation funding proposal Monday, while saying more federal spending on infrastructure is needed to keep the nation economically strong.

“I believe it’s extremely important with the number of bridges we have in Pennsylvania to make that investment,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He spoke at a summit of the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition, a broad-based group formed several years ago to lobby for transportation funding.

Mr. Shuster’s remarks came one week after Gov. Tom Corbett proposed gradually lifting the cap on the state Oil Company Franchise Tax, a levy on wholesalers such as gas stations, over five years. Mr. Corbett wants to reduce the state gasoline tax paid at the pump from 12 cents a gallon to 10 cents a gallon over two years.

The changes would yield $500 million in new state transportation revenue the first year and $1.8 billion by the fifth year. The changes could cost the typical motorist up to $100 annually by the fifth year.

Mr. Shuster helped win passage last year of a two-year federal transportation funding bill for roads and transit and faces the challenge of finding support in Congress for new revenue sources so a long-term funding bill can be approved. He said a long-term bill covering funding for five or six years is needed to ensure a predictable flow of funding.

The congressman said he’s receptive to considering new sources of revenue with the traditional federal gas tax yielding less revenue because of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The two-year funding bill creates opportunities for tolling on state-owned bridges and highways, said Mr. Shuster while adding he thinks it would be difficult to get support in Washington, D.C., for tolling interstate highways.

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