The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

June 28, 2013

How did we get here?

The state's latest transportation plans put forth by the governor and the legislature call for billions of dollars in infrastructure spending.

Depending on which plan you read, the amount spent each year on roads and bridges ranges somewhere from $1.4 billion and $2.2 billion annually after five years. The money would come from a variety of new fees for licenses and registration and increased fines for traffic violations. The biggest push comes from what would be the largest state gas tax in the nation, one that could cost drivers up to 75 cents a gallon, about a quarter more than you pay now.

That means if you have an 18-gallon tank, it will cost you $4.50 more every time you fill up. Even if you top off only once a week, that means and additional $234 per year for each car you own.

A question that begs to be asked -- and answered -- is why does Pennsylvania, out of all the states in this union, need the highest gas tax?

According to the Federal Highway Administration, Pennsylvania ranks 11th nationally with more than 253,000 miles of roads. It is more than 400,000 miles behind top-ranked Texas, ranks just behind Michigan (nearly 256,000) and just ahead of New York (243,000). Pennsylvania ranks ninth in the total number of bridges at just over 22,000. The state does have plenty of drivers to pay the bills, however. Pennsylvania's 8 million licensed drivers is fifth nationally, behind only California, Texas, Florida and New York.

By those numbers Pennsylvania should have high gas taxes, but not the highest in the nation. Yet the plan is to do just that.

There is something wrong here.

Is it that lawmakers have been so slow to react and now we are at a breaking point where money must flood into the system to save crumbling infrastructure? Or is it that money set aside for our roads and bridges has been diverted to other projects whose needs were deemed more pressing?

No matter what the answer, Pennsylvanians are about to see the highest state gas tax in the nation clean their wallets.

Again, why?

If family incomes are to be hijacked at the gas pump by state government, Pennsylvanians deserve to know why and to be assured that the new transportation plan corrects the terrible job of governing that led us all to this situation.

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