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Pennsylvania Passes Transportation Plan Changing Fuel Tax Structure

November 22, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign legislation passed by state lawmakers on Thursday providing $2.3 billion over five years for transportation, about a 40% hike, but it’s leaving some questions unanswered.

One of the biggest has to do with fuel taxes, especially how much of an increase there will be.

The measure eliminates the 12 cents-a-gallon liquid fuels tax, replacing it with a fuel tax at the wholesale level.

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch says it does not include an immediate increase of 28 cents per gallon, as has been reported by some new outlets. He says such an estimate is based on the wholesale price of fuel in 2018 and it is not possible to predict the price per gallon five years from now.

However, Gov. Corbett has publicly said fuel taxes will rise, but how much depends on how much oil companies pass the wholesale tax increase along to consumers.

Others claim the legislation will leave the Keystone state with the highest fuel taxes in the nation.

The plan also generates more money by putting additional fees on both truck drivers and four wheelers.

One of the other questions that remains is, now that more funding is in sight, will the state throttle back on action it took earlier this year increasing truck weight limits along some 1,000 bridges?

The Pennsylvania DOT says it made the move earlier this year due to legislative inaction over transportation funding, resulting in problems for some in trucking.

Finally, the legislation increases the maximum speed limit on Pennsylvania interstates from 65 to 70 mph. However, it will be up to the state DOT to study and determine where it will be safe to raise the speed limits.

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