The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

November 30, 2012

Corbett aides join talks on transportation

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has joined talks on transportation funding proposals and is showing interest in legislation that would increase a tax paid by gas-station owners to pump more money into highway and bridge construction and repair, a top state senator told The Associated Press on Friday.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, said he hopes to introduce a bill in January that will include input from key Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, as well as the governor.

Talks with Corbett aides began in the past two weeks, Rafferty said.

“They’ve shown interest in some of the language that I’ve proposed to them in lifting the oil company franchise tax,” Rafferty said. “They haven’t nodded their head in agreement, but they’re very interested in what I’ve proposed.”

Corbett, who took a campaign pledge not to raise taxes, has been under pressure from lawmakers since last year to come forward with a transportation funding plan to address a multibillion-dollar backlog of highway and bridge repairs that are a source of rising safety concerns.

Another cornerstone of Rafferty’s legislation would involve offering incentives to encourage private-sector investors to underwrite for-profit transportation projects, such as tolled highway lanes.

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