PA Transportation Panel Urges Raising Drivers' Fees, Gas Tax

July 19--HARRISBURG -- Gov. Corbett's Transportation Advisory Commission recommended sweeping changes Monday in how the state funds transportation and mass transit that if implemented could eventually cost drivers an extra $132 a year in fees and increased gas taxes.

The panel was assembled three months ago to find ways to close the $3.5 billion transportation funding gap that Pennsylvania faces. Its suggestions are not binding.

The commission urged legislation to increase the cost of titles, inspections, driver's licenses, and other documents in line with inflation. It said the move would raise $412 million in the first year and $574 million by the fifth year. The panel recommended increasing passenger-vehicle registration costs by $13 and four-year driver's license fees by $4. Drivers would also be charged a $10 local registration fee.

The panel also suggested readjusting the wholesale gasoline tax, capped at $1.25 in 1993. That could bring in an extra $1.4 billion of revenue per year, according to the commission.

If properly adjusted for inflation, the tax would be increased by $1.43. The commission estimated that this would increase gas prices by about 22 cents per gallon this year.

The state could also make several smaller changes to help bring in revenue, the commission reported. Drivers with more than one moving violation in a given year, for instance, could be levied a $100 surcharge.'

In a move that it said would cost the consumer nothing but save the state paperwork costs, owners would register their vehicle only every other year, paying for two years at once. A similar proposal would make driver's licenses renewable every eight years, with motorists paying double the current fee.

The panel said its recommendations, which it will include in a formal report to Corbett on Aug. 1, would cost drivers an additional $36 the first year, and about $23 more per year during the five-year rollout period. If all the recommendations were adopted, the state would be send an additional $2.7 billion to transportation within five years, the commission estimated.

Pennsylvania is ranked highest in the country for structurally deficient bridges and has 7,000 miles of roads listed as in poor condition.

Contact staff writer Sari Heidenreich at 443-554-9136, sarih1316@gmail.com, or @sariheid on Twitter.

Copyright 2011 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

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