The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

February 21, 2014

Our senator is out of touch | Does he fathom highway bill's effect?

JOHNSTOWN — Was he serious or does he not understand?

Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont, is minority chairman of the state Senate Transportation Committee. He also was a stalwart backer of the new transportation bill that went into effect Jan. 1.

Everyone who drives on Pennsylvania’s roads or crosses one of our bridges would agree that something had to be done, and soon, to rectify the horrendous condition of our transportation system.

But we also didn’t think the impact would be so severe so immediately.

Provisions of the bill called for the wholesale cap on gasoline to be eliminated, and the cost passed on to consumers. The result was that gas skyrocketed as much as 16 cents per gallon to $3.54 on Jan. 1. Another spike, this one caused by a rise in the cost of crude oil, has caused gas prices to rise again, to $3.65.

Wozniak told our Dave Sutor that he considers the additional fees (costs for registrations and driver’s licenses also jumped) piled onto consumers “a user fee.”

“If you don’t drive or if you drive less, you don’t have to pay,” our esteemed senator said.

Huh?

Regardless of whether you use one vehicle, a fleet of vehicles or a unicycle to get around, this bill affects everyone in Pennsylvania, not just drivers.

What our esteemed senator may not understand is that companies that distribute food and merchandise to stores in the Keystone State are passing along their added expenses of buying fuel for their trucks to the consumers. So whether you drive, walk or take a bus, shoppers are paying more at the check-out, thanks to the transportation bill.

And what about people who take advantage of public transportation. How long will it be before fares are readjusted because transit authorities have to pay more for the fuel for their fleets? Does Wozniak think the bus companies will just absorb the additional expense?

Has Wozniak become so jaded by his walking around money, per diem stipend, mileage reimbursement and who knows how many other perks that he has lost sight of the plight of John Q. Public?

We suggest that our senator spend more time in his hometown talking to his constituents, perhaps hosting town hall meetings or coffee klatches, to find out how they are being impacted by the transportation bill.

Then maybe he’ll think first before inserting his foot into his mouth.

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