A modern, safe and efficient transportation infrastructure is necessary for the health of Pennsylvania’s economy, the free flow of goods and commerce and the mobility of its citizens. Policymakers must continue to support a robust, safe and efficient transportation infrastructure network that includes roads, rail, air, transit and water.
Policymakers must continue to recognize and to foster transportation infrastructure, given its inherent ability to support and sustain economic growth and quality of life.
The Chamber supports the following public policy and taxation options to support the state’s transportation system:
- Motor License Fund and Motor Fuels Taxes
The Pennsylvania Constitution mandates that monies generated from all liquid fuels taxes be placed in a dedicated revenue account – the Motor License Fund – and used solely for highway- and bridge-related transportation improvements. This portion of the Constitution is known as the “non-diversionary clause.” Given the importance of maintaining a secure funding stream for highway- and bridge-related purposes, the Chamber opposes any changes to the non-diversionary clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Liquid Fuels Taxes includes various types of fuels taxes, including those commonly characterized as motor fuels taxes. Motor fuels taxes include separate taxes on Liquid Fuels (primarily gasoline), Fuels (primarily diesel), and Alternative Fuels (i.e. ethanol). The Chamber believes that motor fuels taxes are the clearest examples of user fees and therefore supports reasonable increases to the motor fuels taxes as part of the funding solution. This funding source alone may not be sustainable due to fewer miles being traveled, the use of alternate transportation and the increased use of more fuel efficient and alternative-fuels vehicles. In order to achieve necessary funding, the Chamber would consider other revenue-producing options.
- Public-Private Partnerships
Private investment can and should play a major role in building or maintaining transportation infrastructure. The Chamber supports the continued and increased use of public-private partnerships in the public infrastructure sector.
Limited funding streams exist in Pennsylvania for the maintenance of its total transportation infrastructure. For this reason, the Chamber supports efficient electronic tolling of newly created and modernized highways as an additional funding mechanism to maintain the roadways in the Commonwealth.
- Federal Funding
The continued partnership between local, state and federal government is paramount to the continued vitality of the state’s transportation infrastructure. The Chamber opposes efforts for federal funding to be “devolved” to the Commonwealth and supports a sustainable, long-term, user-fee based funding structure for the federal Highway Trust Fund.
Pennsylvania’s mass transit system, which consists of roughly 74 different systems within the Commonwealth, is critical to business operations in Pennsylvania by providing bus and rail service to the workforce, as well as to residents and visitors. While the Chamber is open to considering secure funding streams for these systems, the first step should be to pursue greater efficiencies in those systems, including, but not limited to, the exploration of public/private partnerships and/or other privatization efforts.
The Chamber acknowledges that regulatory red tape frequently delays transportation project execution. The Chamber supports the streamlining of the regulatory permitting process to expedite a project to shovel ready status with the appropriate attention to public safety. The Chamber also supports efforts to grant rail operators flexibility in implementing various state and federal regulatory obligations.
The Chamber also acknowledges that prevailing wage arbitrarily raises the cost of construction for projects and increases the tax burden. While Act 89 of 2013, the state’s comprehensive transportation funding legislation, included some reforms to prevailing wage, the PA Chamber supports the complete elimination of prevailing wage to allow more transportation funding to be applied directly to the cost of building and maintaining transportation infrastructure.