Rendell Proposes Oil Company Tax, Driver/Vehicle Fee Increases For Transportation
Gov. Rendell this week unveiled what he said would be a $1 billion increase in annual transportation-- highway and transit-- funding. His plan (no surprises here) includes--
-- $576 million from a new net profits tax on oil companies which he said now only paid $35 million in state Corporate Net Income Tax, while making $5 billion in profits in Pennsylvania; and
-- $434 million by raising driver and vehicle fees consistent with the increase in inflation (for the average driver the increase would cost 33 cents per week).
He again cited the poll numbers he released last week saying 74 percent of the public supported the oil company tax and a narrow majority supported the increase in driver and vehicle fees.
The Governor was flanked by Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Minority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Barry Stout (D-Washington), Minority Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Majority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Notably, no other members of House Democratic Leadership nor Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), Majority Chair of the House Transportation Committee, appeared at the press conference unveiling.
In answer to a question about how many House Democrats will vote for tax increases, Rep. Evans said he didn't know, but "it will pass." Later he went further saying he didn't know if the vote would happen before the election. (The Senate has already said they will not be in session after the election, see below.)
Sen. Costa also expressed optimism a package will pass because there is concern across all the General Assembly about transportation funding.
Gov. Rendell used Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's "no tax increase" pledge to say the funding has to be raised now or funding would not be increased for five years.
The Majority Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), said he favors a comprehensive transportation funding bill for highways, bridges, rail freight and mass transit, but said 2011 is a better time to consider the package.
Sen. Rafferty also said if Republican Tom Corbett is elected Governor, he might view increasing taxes and fees to adequately fund transportation, in spite of his "no tax increase" pledge.
For their part this week, the Corbett campaign said his no tax increase pledge did not include fees, but the candidate reiterated his position he would not increase taxes.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) said there is no doubt the public is in favor of funding transportation improvements, but no one is calling his office asking him to increase driver and vehicle fees or the gas tax.
Sen. Pileggi also said again the Senate has no plans to return to Harrisburg to consider legislation after the November election.
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