FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
PA Chamber outlines potential solutions to Commonwealth’s transportation funding needs
HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry today told a Senate panel that failing to properly address the Commonwealth’s aging infrastructure will have significant economic and quality-of-life implications. The Chamber then outlined a number of potential funding options supported by the business community.
Pennsylvania faces a $476 million funding shortfall as a result of the federal government’s recent rejection of tolling I-80, which was a key provision of Act 44 of 2008. The decision has forced lawmakers back to the drawing board in search of other funding solutions.
Testifying before the Senate Transportation Committee, PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Stephanie Catarino Wissman stressed that having a modern, safe and efficient transportation system is necessary for the free flow of commerce and the mobility of residents of and visitors to the Commonwealth.
"Prudence and necessity dictate that Pennsylvania consider a variety of possibilities to pay for its transportation needs," she said.
PA Chamber member companies support a number of options, including a reasonable increase in the Motor Fuels tax, which represents a true user fee and would provide a dedicated funding source for infrastructure projects. Due to increased federal fuel efficiency requirements, revenues from the tax have declined from needed levels.
Other concepts favored by the PA Chamber include public-private partnerships, the tolling of newly created and modernized highways and strategic borrowing.
However, the business community does not support Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposed Oil Company Gross Profits Tax- the second attempt by the administration to enact such a tax. The PA Chamber opposes singling out individual industries for taxation, which in this case would include small businesses that deliver home heating oil.
The PA Chamber pledges to work with elected officials and other stakeholders to successfully address Pennsylvania’s transportation challenges.
"The PA Chamber recognizes that lawmakers face no small task in finding viable funding sources for Pennsylvania’s transportation system at a time when the Commonwealth faces so many other significant fiscal challenges," Wissman said. "The PA Chamber is prepared to work with elected officials to find common ground among the many ideas that have been put forth in order to ensure a reliable and efficient transportation system."
The Pennsylvania Chamber is the state’s largest broad-based business advocacy organization, with its members comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business™.