Dear KTFC member or friend:
As we begin the new year, our attention turns to the series of House and Senate budget hearings. In particular, this is quite an important year for PennDOT’s budget as we move closer to the expiration of the Turnpike’s $400 million annual subsidy for public transportation.
Additionally, as we noted a few weeks back, Pennsylvania will likely need to come up with a match of around $1 billion as the local share for $4 billion in new federal money earmarked for transportation over the next five years. Our construction industry friends have noted that returning fuel tax and license and registration revenue to the Motor License Fund instead of diverting it for State Police operations could be one solution.
Although a complete list of House and Senate Appropriations Committee hearings has not yet been posted on the committee websites, we know that the 2022 Senate PennDOT budget hearing will be Feb. 24 at 2:30 p.m., followed by the House equivalent on March 1 at 1 p.m.
For Coalition members interested in tracking the hearings for other state departments, we suggest you check the House Appropriations and Senate Appropriations sites, where the schedules will eventually be posted.
TRANSPORTATION ISSUE UPDATE
- Gov. Tom Wolf announced that the Middletown train station project is complete and Amtrak-service passengers may begin using the new station Jan. 10. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at the station Jan. 18.
- State Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr., R-Johnstown, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, discussed how the Pittsburgh region’s continued leadership in autonomous vehicle technology – with cutting edge programs at Carnegie Mellon University and top companies Argo AI, Aurora and others – depends on regulatory changes to thrive, and how leaders from government, industry and education came together to help him craft Senate Bill 965.
- The largest electric vehicle charging station in western Pennsylvania was recently installed in Pittsburgh.
- The Eastern Pennsylvania Freight Alliance proposes to develop a multi-regional freight plan for the 10-county area composed of Berks, Carbon, Lebanon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike and Schuylkill counties, covering nearly 400 municipalities within the region.
- The Motor License Fund received $208.5 million for the month, $14.2 million above estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund – which include the commonly known gas and diesel taxes, as well as other license, fine and fee revenues – total $1.4 billion, which is $61.3 million, or 4.5 percent, above estimate.
- Pa. Turnpike planning steps to reduce $105M in unpaid tolls. The uncollected tolls are mostly from drivers who don’t have an E-ZPass transponder and failed to pay a bill they received in the mail after the agency took a photo of their license plate. Other delinquents are drivers who purposely cover their license or take other steps to avoid paying turnpike tolls, or who live out of state and feel no obligation to pay Pennsylvania’s piper.
- More than $18 billion will be on its way to Pennsylvania as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden earlier this month. How will Pa. spend its infrastructure money?