The below statement is by State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129)
The Pennsylvania House this week approved a bill that will drive up costs for Pennsylvania drivers on everything from filling up their gasoline tanks to registering their cars and renewing their driver’s licenses. I voted against the bill.
House Bill 1060 will phase out the cap on a tax on oil companies, which they are not prevented from passing along to drivers through higher gasoline prices. I consider this to be a tax increase, while others may try to defend it as a “fee-based service.”
It also calls for increases in the cost for vehicle registrations and driver’s license renewals, both of which will continually increase in future years. The bill also includes numerous increases in fines associated with certain traffic violations.
Some of the new money collected through these changes will be sent to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to further subsidize their buses and trains. This portion of the bill is obviously not a “fee-based service” since the money to operate these mass transit systems will be provided by Pennsylvania drivers.
Some of my colleagues and I have continually argued for more fiscally conservative and responsible measures to address our Commonwealth’s transportation needs. For example, we could consider:
• Legislation that would prioritize transportation spending decisions so that money is used for road and bridge repairs instead of ancillary projects.
• Proposals to reform or replace the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission by rolling it into the existing Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which would reduce the number of inefficiencies that result from having multiple agencies.
• Plans to identify alternative funding sources, such as the hundreds of millions of dollars currently used to pay for the Pennsylvania State Police that are taken out of a fund that was originally designated to pay for road and bridge repairs.
Many Pennsylvanians are still struggling with the negative financial consequences that have followed the housing market crash and resulting Great Recession. It is simply irresponsible to increase fees and raise taxes on our families and businesses to pay for the transportation wish list contained in House Bill 1060. While I realize the importance of maintaining our transportation infrastructure, there are commonsense approaches, which I fully support, that would more directly address these needs.