HARRISBURG—Today Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) and Senator Mike Regan (Cumberland/York) learned for the first time from the PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT) that they intend to impose tolls on the Interstate 83 John Harris (South) Bridge in Harrisburg between Dauphin and Cumberland County. DiSanto and Regan oppose this tolling plan and intend to use every means available to them, legislative or otherwise, to prevent Governor Wolf from moving forward.
During a Senate Transportation Committee hearing in January, prior to the announcement of the specific bridges to be tolled, DiSanto called PennDOT’s proposal an effort to impose a new tax on Pennsylvanians. He said today’s announcement about tolling the John Harris Bridge “amounts to a new tax on area residents who travel daily between the East and West Shores for work, shopping and entertainment.” He continued, “While we need to provide for appropriate transportation infrastructure in the commonwealth, government always seems to jump first to higher taxes and fees, and we already have nearly the highest gas tax and Turnpike tolls in the country. Let’s look instead at the out-of-control and non-effective regulatory compliance activities that drive up costs. Let’s look at PennDOT’s inefficient planning and procurement processes and bloated bureaucracy. Let’s look at how we prioritize the use of existing gas tax revenues. Government needs to explore cost savings and focus on delivering a better product more efficiently before asking taxpayers to pay more.”
Senator Regan said, “This proposal by the Wolf Administration has not been well thought out and would amount to hundreds if not thousands of dollars on individual drivers that use this route daily during a given year. I cannot support this tax increase on these hard working men and women who are just trying to get to work. This process has been done in the dark and without full transparency and legislative oversight.”
DiSanto and Regan have engaged with their Senate Republican colleagues to advance legislation that would bring greater transparency and oversight to PennDOT’s tolling schemes. They also vowed to hold PennDOT and the Wolf Administration accountable, as state budget negotiations continue, for announcing a proposal so short on specifics, including data and financial projections for each bridge evaluated and the criteria used to select the bridges to be tolled.
DiSanto and Regan said, “This tolling scheme amounts to a multi-billion dollar tax increase on Pennsylvania residents, and the Governor should not be able to impose it unilaterraly without a vote of the Legislature. It is another egregious example of the incompetent and abusive wielding of executive power that has defined his tenure.”