State House rejects fuel tax increase to pay to fix roads, bridges

By - Last modified: November 19, 2013 at 10:39 AM

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File photo of bridge closure. PennDOT has cautioned that more bridges will be closed, or posted with weight restrictions if funding for improvements isn't approved.
File photo of bridge closure. PennDOT has cautioned that more bridges will be closed, or posted with weight restrictions if funding for improvements isn't approved.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Monday night narrowly voted down a transportation amendment aiming to increase the state fuel tax in order to fund improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure.

Among those who voted in favor of the plan was state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Allentown.

"No one likes the idea of making people pay more at the pump or in fees," Schlossberg said.

Without such a move, the state stands to lose 9,600 jobs, jeopardizes safety and hurts business recruitment and retention, he said.

He noted that the measure was defeated by a margin of four votes.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett had advocated for the plan.

"Pennsylvanians can wait no longer to be assured their bridges will be safe and remain open, their highways will remain smooth and their transit systems will be kept in place," Corbett said.

Schlossberg said that while the failed vote was a big blow to those who have been advocating for transportation funding, there is still hope that the House could vote on one of two amendments that are still on the table that would raise $2.4 billion per year after five years. One version tied the vote to raising the threshold on prevailing wage on transportation construction projects from $25,000 to $100,000. In other words, the prevailing wage requirement would not kick unless a project cost at least $100,000.

"It's going to be an uphill battle at this point," Schlossberg said. But he said a new vote could potentially come as early as today.

There are seven more voting sessions before the end of the year.

Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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