PA Chamber Welcomes Transportation Funding Discussion

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry pledged to work with state elected officials to reasonably and effectively address the Commonwealth’s transportation funding needs.

"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," PA Chamber President Floyd Warner said.

Warner said providing adequate funding for transportation is an essential function of government, and stressed that failing to properly address the Commonwealth’s aging infrastructure would have significant economic and quality-of-life implications.

Pennsylvania has some 7,000 miles of highways considered in poor condition and 5,600 deficient bridges. Under Act 44 of 2008, a significant amount of the money needed for highway/bridge maintenance and repair was set to come from the tolling of Interstate 80. However, the federal government recently rejected the state’s application, leaving lawmakers with a $476 million hole to fill.

In kicking off a special legislative session on transportation funding today, Gov. Ed Rendell outlined his preferred revenue sources. State lawmakers also announced their own infrastructure funding proposals in the days following the federal government’s decision on I-80 tolling.

PA Chamber member companies support a number of funding 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.
Warner said because of increased federal fuel efficiency requirements, revenues from the tax have declined from needed levels.

Other concepts favored by the Chamber include public-private partnerships, the tolling of newly created highways and strategic borrowing.

One option being entertained by the governor that does not have PA Chamber-member backing is his proposed Oil Company Gross Profits Tax – the second attempt by the administration to enact such a tax.

The Chamber opposes singling out individual industries for taxation, which in this case would include small businesses that deliver home heating oil.

"We recognize 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," Warner said. "The Pennsylvania 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."

Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state’s largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business.