Harrisburg — Senate Transportation Committee Chair Kim Ward (R-39) said today she will spearhead an effort to confront the major challenges facing Pennsylvania’s transportation system.
“We are faced with multiple risks to Pennsylvania’s transportation system, including, but not limited to, the pending litigation against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), and the Pennsylvania State Police’s (PSP) reliance on the Motor License Fund (MLF),” Senator Ward said at a press conference hosted by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania. “These risks are creating uncertainty for managing highways, bridges, and public transportation in this Commonwealth.”
Act 44 of 2007 requires PTC to transfer $450 million annually to support public transportation through 2022 then $50 million annually through 2057. Due to the pending litigation against PTC, public transportation may lose this revenue source starting as early as July 1, 2019. Tolls have increased every year since 2009 and PTC accumulated an estimated $6 billion in debt to support these mandatory transfer payments.
Additionally, PSP depends on transfers from the MLF to enforce safety on our highways. PSP funding from the MLF increased from $368 million in FY 2004-05 to $802 million in FY 2016-17. In the 2016 Fiscal Code, the General Assembly capped the PSP appropriation at $802 million from the MLF in FY 2017-18 and would decrease by four percent each year until FY 2027-28 when the amount reaches approximately $500 million. The PSP are the backbone of ensuring safety and security in this Commonwealth, and the PSP must have reliable, sustainable funding sources other than the MLF.
Senator Ward announced that she will put together a legislative working group to evaluate the options and draft legislation to end the Turnpike’s transfer payments to PennDOT and to develop a legislative plan to empower public transportation.
When this is completed, she will form another legislative working group to accelerate the provisions from the 2016 Fiscal Code that reduces PennDOT’s transfer payments to the State Police.
“I accept these risks as a call to action,” said Senator Ward. “Together, we can craft legislation to help our interconnected system of highways, bridges, and public transportation. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we must find better solutions to address these risks.”
Nolan Ritchie, Senator Kim Ward’s Office, 717-787-6063