BRIDGEVILLE – Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) today expressed bewilderment at a final report issued by Gov. Tom Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission that would cost residents billions of dollars.
“This governor must live in an alternate reality,” Ortitay said. “With less than 18 months before he leaves office, he unveils another plan to increase taxes and fees, but this time it won’t go into effect until after he is out of office so he doesn’t have to experience the fallout. If Gov. Wolf wants to propose billions of dollars in increased taxes and fees, then let’s have a conversation about comprehensive tax reform. This plan not only robs the taxpayer but makes fees and taxes much more difficult to understand.”
The plan, which never was voted upon by the commission, would establish an 8.1 cents per mile tax for each mile that a vehicle is driven in Pennsylvania; create a pilot mileage-based user fee for electric vehicles; establish a $1 fee for every package delivered by large corporations like Amazon, UPS and FedEx, as well as deliveries from local groceries and restaurants; charge providers like Uber and Lyft a $1.11 fee for each trip; create corridor tolling and limited-lane tolling; and increase vehicle registration and vehicle rental fees, along with aircraft registration and jet fuel taxes. None of these ideas can be implemented without legislative action.
“There’s no talk of doing things better – only the need to raise taxes and fees,” Ortitay said. “There should have been a commission put forth to look at how we currently do things versus how other states and countries do them. We should be looking for cost savings, instead of jumping directly toward increasing billions of dollars in taxes and fees.”
The report also urges the Legislature to act immediately on this proposal and that PennDOT will be moving to make the recommendations of this report a reality in the next six months.
“If this was such a priority and such an issue, why has the governor never addressed it in any of his budget addresses?” Ortitay questioned. “If the Wolf administration is truly interested in moving forward, we should proceed with my House Resolution 130 to first determine how we can work within our current means before asking taxpayers to foot the bill on another $10 billion in spending from a lame duck administration.”
The plan also proposes to phase out the current Commonwealth gasoline tax.
“The gas tax would not be phased out until after vehicle registration fees are doubled and mileage-based user fees are implemented for a full five years,” Ortitay said. “If you think taxes magically disappear after the government says they will, let us not forget the Johnstown Flood Tax or the temporary Personal Income Tax under Gov. Ed Rendell that is still ‘temporarily’ in place.”
Ortitay also expressed concerns about additional tolling, not only under this plan but also under one unveiled in February that would toll nine bridges across the state, including the I-79 bridge near the Bridgeville exit.
“Again, PennDOT is overstepping the law and the authority it has to enter into these contracts, which is just begging for lawsuits with its shady ways of trying to hide its tolling plans,” Ortitay said. “It passed a generic resolution last November when the Legislature wasn’t in session. There was no list of the bridge projects. Then in February, coincidentally after the Legislature could object, PennDOT announced which bridges were under consideration across the state. Conveniently, the announcement neglected to state that eight of the nine proposed bridges to be tolled are in Republican districts, proving this administration loves to play partisan politics.
“If matters could get any worse, the sole discretion for setting the toll rates will be directly in the hands of the governor. To add icing to the cake, if a certain toll fails to produce enough revenue to cover the financing cost to keep the financing company whole, the shortfall will be taken from the Motor License Fund, which everyone pays into. Either way, whether you travel one of the bridges that will be tolled under the February proposal or not, you will end up paying for it.”
The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick