The Pennsylvania Legislature has returned to Harrisburg for the Fall Legislative Session. They are likely to focus on items such as extend the COVID-19 regulatory waivers and returning Pennsylvania back to full employment and stabilize the economy while mitigating the continued effects of the pandemic.
The Legislature will also debate both Congressional and State Legislative Districts based on the recent US Census and take up more controversial items such as not requiring masks in schools and audits of the 2020 election results.
In addition, the Legislature may consider recommendations from the Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC) which issued a report about potential funding sources for Pennsylvania's transportation needs on July 30. The report indicates an annual funding gap at $9.3 billion, with that growing to an annual $14.5 billion gap by 2030, while infrastructure maintained by local governments faces an annual shortfall of nearly $4 billion, which is expected to grow to $5.1 billion per year by 2030. The TROC report says state and federal gas tax revenue are not keeping pace with the costs of maintaining Pennsylvania's very large and aging transportation infrastructure. The report proposes to generate the funds by using a variety of revenue sources, including: mileage-based user fees (MBUF), and an electric vehicle (EV) MBUF pilot program; tolling of more roads; eliminating transfers from the Motor License Fund (MLF) to the Pennsylvania State Police (with that funding to be replaced by General Fund revenue); various new or increased fees; and tax increases. The report suggests raising the current vehicle sales tax and the jet fuel tax, as well as indexing the state's gas tax to inflation.
In response, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) stated, “Raising multiple taxes on Pennsylvanians to pay for transportation infrastructure at this juncture is both ill-timed and short-sighted given the transportation infrastructure funding discussion happening at the federal level. The timing and scope of these recommended multiple tax increases is even more frustrating given Pennsylvania’s continued struggle to recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to economic policies supported by both the Biden and Wolf administrations Pennsylvanians are currently forced to deal with rising gas prices that show no signs of decreasing, runaway inflation that is devaluing every dollar they earn, and diminished national energy independence once fueled by Pennsylvania’s homegrown energy sector.”
To learn more about these items and others issues of importance to the Delaware County Business Community please attend the next Chamber Government Affairs Committee on Friday, October 1st, 8am at the Chamber offices.