New Castle News

Closer Look

January 31, 2013

Our Opinion: Transportation plan obviously increases consumer costs

NEW CASTLE — Whenever politicians make broad, blanket pledges, they often run the risk of making themselves look foolish.

And so it is with Gov. Tom Corbett, who once again is faced with the prospect of trying to explain how a tax increase is nothing of the sort.

You may recall that when he ran for governor, Corbett made the standard Republican promise not to raise taxes while in office. Since that time, he has supported the imposition of a fee on shale gas extraction in the commonwealth and authorized a new line on state income tax returns seeking payment of previously uncollected use tax.

Now comes an increase in gasoline taxes. Only don’t expect the governor to call it that.

News reports indicate that a major part of Corbett’s upcoming plan to upgrade transportation maintenance funding in the commonwealth will involve a change in Pennsylvania’s oil franchise tax. The move — which will require legislative approval — involves lifting a current cap on the tax.

The effect of this move would mean higher taxes for gasoline stations — to the tune of nearly $2 billion a year.

When Corbett floated this idea a few months back, he argued that lifting the cap wouldn’t necessarily lead to higher prices at the pump, because a variety of factors impact gasoline prices.

That’s true, but the same could be said of any consumer product. Does that mean government can boost taxes on them and then claim it did nothing of the sort?

Apparently so in Harrisburg, where Corbett’s press secretary, Kevin Harley, denied the plan would boost taxes. “How is he raising taxes?” Harley asked an Associated Press reporter wanting information on the subject. “I am curious how he is raising taxes.”

Well, we’re curious about how this can be anything other than a tax increase.

If oil companies have to pay Pennsylvania an additional $2 billion a year, we think it’s a safe assumption that the money will be tacked on to gasoline prices. Any argument to the contrary strikes us as ludicrous.

Be that as it may, it appears Corbett’s plan will receive widespread support in the Legislature, where lawmakers in both parties have been clamoring for more transportation funding. Democrats will accept the new tax, while winking and nudging at Corbett’s inconsistency. Republicans will seek to avoid the subject.

There is no doubt that roads and bridges in Pennsylvania need work, and that means they need money. Obtaining those funds from gasoline makes sense in terms of it being the equivalent of a user fee.

However, we hope that Corbett’s upcoming announcement on transportation funding comes with renewed state efforts at efficient, responsible spending. Pennsylvanians already shell out billions of dollars for state highways. The money needs to be used wisely.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • phone.jpg Attorney general warns of phone scams

    Assorted scams in the commonwealth have prompted a warning from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said several scams have been reported to the Bureau of Consumer Protection in recent weeks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • disability.jpg Disabilities group unveils new icon

    Disability Options Network is joining forces with the Accessible Icon Project. Officials of the community organization, located at 1929 E. Washington St., said its new icon will replace the current international symbol for accessibility.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • well.jpg Auditor: State doesn’t have enough inspectors to monitor wells

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.


    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field

    Just when Pennsylvania voters were getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • manna.jpg John K. Manna: Measuring the money

    Should we even bother to have an election in November? By some accounts, maybe the results of some contests are already in.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • shooting.jpg Man injured in city shooting

    A man was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital Thursday morning following a shooting on West Lincoln Avenue.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • police.jpg Police: Man pulls gun on construction workers

    Construction workers in Neshannock Township flagged down police Thursday claiming a business owner had pulled a gun on them.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Shooting witness arrested for giving false name

    State police have arrested a second Detroit area man after questioning him about Sunday’s fatal shooting in Ellwood City. DeMarco Dorian Hoskins, 22, of Highland Park, Mich., was the third man in a private car that transported the deceased to look for a hospital. Hoskins allegedly gave police a false identity when they questioned him as witness.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • bridgerepair.jpg PennDOT seeks outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.


    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • GALLO_Natalie.jpg County native plays Clinton intern

    Natalie Gallo isn’t an intern, but she’s playing one on the New York stage.


    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage