While details of the Governor's transportation funding plan are being kept under wraps until the plan is officially released, there are reports out of Harrisburg that one key element will be the removal of a cap that could give a big boost to gas tax revenue for the state. Under the current regulations, an oil company franchise tax is collected only on the first $1.25 paid per gallon at the wholesale price. Because gasoline costs a great deal more than that now, the full removal of the wholesaler's tax cap would raise an additional $1.85 billion annually for the state according to the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association. But some legislators familiar with the plan say there is little doubt it is consumers in the state who will be paying the higher tax bill eventually.
While lifting the wholesale gas tax was first proposed by a Corbett Administration Commission formed to examine transportation needs, the Governor say his funding plan is still being developed and its effects on consumers are still to be determined. Still the concern that higher state gas taxes could soon boost the price at the pump has plenty of area motorists concerned.
While lifting the wholesale gas tax cap is one plan the Corbett Administration is reported to be looking at, several other options including changes to the state's licensing procedures and the use of public private partnerships for new road construction are also under consideration. The key to getting any of the funding plans through the general assembly could be by limiting how any addition revenue will be spent.
Because Governor Corbett ran a pledge of holding the line on taxes, his Administration is expected to argue that they are closing a loophole rather than raising a tax if they move ahead to remove the wholesaler's gas tax cap as expected.