This is the Candidate Question & Response Forum for the Pennsylvania State House 157 candidates. As previously stated, candidate Warren Kampf declined to participate in the question and response forum. Candidate Paul Drucker’s response follows the question. Each Monday for six weeks, a new question and response will be posted. The candidate forum will end the week before the election.
Question #3: There is evidence of the large and growing gap between infrastructure needs and the resources available in Pennsylvania. How do you propose paying for transportation improvements?
Paul Drucker’s Response
The needs of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) have been growing from year to year. There are now 12000 structurally deficient roads and bridges throughout the commonwealth. There is simply not enough money in the budget to repair them all, let alone to break ground on new projects.
I have met with members of the house and senate transportation committees, transportation industry leaders, the chambers of commerce, commissions and boards created to address the transportation needs and constituents. The one thing everyone agrees upon is that something must be done.
I propose that we begin to explore new revenue sources not only for our roads, but also for new light-rail systems and other mass transportation needs. With an additional $3.5billion needed per year merely to keep up with infrastructure maintenance, there are some difficult decisions ahead of us.
I know there is some talk of imposing tolls on certain roads and that this idea is being studied. There are additional potential sources that the Governor has suggested be utilized for revenue, such as closing tax loopholes for oil companies and creating public private partnerships. While these ideas seem worth exploring, I’ll want to make sure they are fair, reasonable and that all impacts are fully evaluated and addressed.
We should also consider dedicating some portion of a tax on the Marcellus shale natural gas extraction to fund our transportation needs. Pennsylvania has the second largest reserve of natural gas in the United States. However, of the top 15 energy-producing states, Pennsylvania is the only state that does not have a severance tax. Such a tax, on the billion dollar companies making huge profits off our resources, would begin to fill the revenue gap.