HARRISBURG – Calling it an “intrusive government overreach,” Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) today said he does not support the recommendations of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC), which submitted its final report last week.
The TROC was formed by the governor in March (without legislative approval) to develop funding solutions for transportation infrastructure in Pennsylvania. The recommendations amount to across-the-board tax increases, including a per-mileage fee for state drivers, higher taxes on home deliveries and tolls on existing bridges.
Heffley issued the following statement in reaction to the report:
“The governor’s commission consisted of his own appointees and special interest groups who were tasked with figuring out a way to increase taxes to fund the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure needs of the future. The proposed highway usage tax, along with some of the other recommendations, are too intrusive and part of a socialist/progressive agenda that is simply wrong for post-pandemic Pennsylvania.
“One of the commission’s recommendations is an 8.1 cent mileage fee to be imposed on all Pennsylvania residents. It is important to note that for a taxing scheme like this to work, it would require the government to attach an on-board recording device to your private vehicle. The state would then upload the miles you have driven for tax purposes. They would also have access to all data collected by your vehicle, including how fast you drive, how often you brake and how often you change the oil. They could also monitor the vehicle’s emissions, and where and who you visit.
“Pennsylvania residents would no longer be able to freely move about their community or state without the forever-watchful eye of PennDOT bureaucrats monitoring their every move. We all know the dismal record the Wolf administration has had with securing personal information after data breaches with COVID-tracking and the epic failure to prevent fraudulent unemployment compensation claims. Why would this plan be any different?
“So, what comes next, a walking tax or maybe a bicycle tax? What about a tax on the miles ridden on mass transit? All could be easily tracked through a cell phone or an Apple watch. We should be using this technology to find efficiencies in the system, cut costs and promote personal freedom, not as a tracking device to tax the working poor.
“Pennsylvanians are struggling with higher energy costs right now because of policies at the national level that are causing runaway inflation, while diminishing our national energy independence. We need to stop reducing our domestic energy production and reform the permitting and regulatory processes in our state before we ask hardworking taxpayers to pay more to simply drive to work.
“I agree that Pennsylvania has a growing financial need for infrastructure repairs. However, we should be looking for the federal government to step up to the plate with a national infrastructure plan that funds real capital projects – building roads, bridges and transit systems.
“Pennsylvania also has other revenue-enhancing alternatives available. I voted to transition the State Police budget out of the Motor License Fund, freeing up $750 million dollars more in highway funding annually. We must grow our economy in all sectors and transition the unemployed back into the workforce, resulting in increased revenues. Developing our homegrown energy sector will provide additional resources as well for the General Fund and transportation budgets.
“I expect there will be little support in the General Assembly for the commission’s proposals, which are just another example of the state government overreach we see time and time again from this governor.”
Representative Doyle Heffley
122nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Andy Briggs