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State Commission Considers Alternatives To Gasoline Tax, But Will That Cost Drivers More?

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - Would you like to see an end to the state's gasoline tax?

A commission appointed by Governor Wolf is looking at alternative ways to fund road and bridge repairs in the Commonwealth. But those alternatives could end up costing taxpayers a lot more.

With the second highest gasoline tax in the nation and the highest turnpike tolls in the world, nobody likes the way Pennsylvania funds its roads, bridges and mass transit, but are there real alternatives?

"It's a matter of putting options on the table, perhaps with some recommendations," says Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and a member of the Transportation Revenue Options Commission.

Barr told KDKA money and politics editor Jon Delano that finding acceptable alternatives to the gas tax is hard.

"There's challenges. There's pros and cons with every single item we talk about on here," says Barr.

WATCH: KDKA's Jon Delano Breaks It Down

Abolishing the state's nearly 59-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax and raising the additional $8 billion PennDOT says it needs could be done, but it's painful.

Under consideration by the Commission are the following options:

  • The VMT, or miles-driven fee
  • Double car registration fees
  • Charge fee based on value of car
  • $1 fee for every package delivered to your home
  • $1.11 fee for ride-shares like Uber or Lyft
  • Vehicle miles tax or miles-driven fee of 8.1 cents per mile

The VMT, or miles-driven fee, is the big one when it comes to dollars.

"Every time you leave your driveway and wherever you go, you're going to be assessed 8.1 cents per mile. It's extremely high," says Shelia Dunn, communications director for the National Motorists Association.

Doing some quick math, at 8.1 cents per mile, if you drive 12,000 miles a year, your annual vehicle mileage tax would by $972. In contrast, assuming your car gets 25 miles per gallon, you annual state gasoline tax is around $283.

PennDOT's press Secretary Alexis Campbell says forget the fee amount. That would be set by the state legislature.

"The 8.1 cents in that model yesterday was an example of what a fee could potentially be, but we don't know yet," says Campbell.

With the growth of electric vehicles, the gas tax is becoming obsolete and a mileage-based tax makes sense for many. But lawmakers will no doubt struggle to find the right rate acceptable to consumers.

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