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Plan would refund 50% of road tolls for Pennsylvanians

Proposed bill to reduce PA Turnpike tolls with a tax credit
Proposed bill to reduce PA Turnpike tolls with a tax credit 01:49

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) -- Another Turnpike toll increase would be no surprise for Pennsylvanians. After all, tolls have risen 15 years in a row, including 5% annually in recent years. 

But a 50% toll refund?

"This idea – it's one I've had for a while, actually, but it's becoming ever more important," State Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) said of Senate Bill 419, which would refund 50% of tolls on the Turnpike plus bridges over the Delaware River – up to a $500 maximum each year – to Pennsylvania residents and companies. 

The refund would come via a tax credit. Pennsylvania residents and companies would have to show proof, such as E-ZPass receipts, by Sept. 15 each year for the previous calendar year.

"It's an important thing we can do for working families," Santarsiero said. He said work isn't finished to estimate the cost of the proposal to Pennsylvania's general fund.

"We have a substantial [budget] surplus right now in Pennsylvania," Santarsiero said. "It's something we could easily do as a state and should do."

Senate Republican leaders didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. State Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), the Republican chair of the appropriations committee, said he agrees tolls are too high. But in isolation, he said, the proposal would worsen future budget deficits. Grove said he favors holistically reworking Pennsylvania's budget.

Pennsylvania currently runs a budget surplus, and Democrats have generally argued the commonwealth has the ability to do more for its residents within the bounds of sound fiscal management. Republicans, pointing to forecasts for deficits within a few years, have argued against what they view as risky spending that could squander the recent surpluses.

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