Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Corbett Considering Lifting Cap on Fuel Tax to Fix Roads

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Corbett Considering Lifting Cap on Fuel Tax to Fix Roads

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- As he prepares a funding plan for repairs to Pennsylvania's roads and bridges, Gov. Tom Corbett gave a pre- emptive defense of a recommendation -- lifting a cap on a tax paid by fuel distributors -- that he acknowledged would be seen by some as violating his pledge against raising taxes.

In one of a series of wide-ranging interviews with Capitol reporters on Thursday, Mr. Corbett said he would present an infrastructure funding plan before his February budget address.

His transportation advisory commission issued its report in August 2011, but the governor has yet to back the panel's recommendations or present an alternative approach.

One component of the commission's plan -- which eventually would raise $2.7 billion in new annual revenue -- is to lift the cap of a levy on wholesale gasoline and diesel, which applies only to $1.25 of each gallon. The report also recommended raising fees for license renewals and vehicle registrations.

Mr. Corbett told reporters Thursday that all of the panel's recommendations are on the table as he crafts his plan. Asked if making more of the wholesale gasoline price taxable would violate his no-tax-hike pledge, Mr. Corbett responded that other people will determine the answer: "If we do that, I think you'll hear both sides. But I will tell you this: It's an artificial cap."

"There's a tax rate on the wholesale price of gas, OK, so it should be the wholesale price of gas," he said. "Somewhere along the line the Legislature said, 'but we'll stop it at $1.25.' "

With a multitude of factors determining gas prices, Mr. Corbett made the case that Pennsylvanians might not pay for the increase at the pump.

Mr. Corbett did not rule out the possibility that the state could prohibit fuel distributors from passing an increase along to customers.

Pennsylvania could see some transportation assistance from Washington. Mr. Corbett pointing to U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster's appointment to head the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as "a very good development in Washington. …

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