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Corbett lays out spending plan for transport

February 5, 2013 News Extra

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday proposed raising gasoline tax revenues to generate more than $5 billion over five years to build and repair roads, fix thousands of broken bridges and get mass transit systems onto sounder financial footing.

In the coming year alone, Corbett wants to spend the new money on an array of projects that include building additional lanes on existing highways, making safety improvements and shoring up dangerous bridges. Highway maintenance funds would be spread through all 67 counties through a “needs-based formula.”

In his budget address, Corbett called transportation “the bloodstream of our economy. If it fails, our economy fails.”

After the speech, Senate Transportation Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, said the plan did not go far enough, and he expected to push for increased total spending, to a figure closer to $3 billion a year.

PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said the amount was a starting point for talks and not etched in concrete.

“We’ll have a dialogue with the Legislature,” Schoch said. “The governor has made a proposal.”

Most of the new money Corbett proposes would come from an increase in revenues from the oil company franchise tax, a wholesale levy at the gas station level. The governor wants to phase in the increase in three parts. The Pennsylvania Highway Information Association, a trade group, has said that the move would translate to about 28.5 cents per gallon at current prices.