News & Brews July 29, 2021

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Turnpike makes last $450M payment to PennDOT…but tolls will still go up

Yesterday, the PA Turnpike Commission made its last $450 million payment to PennDOT, marking the final such payment required by Act 44 of 2007. Since then, turnpike drivers have forked over a whopping $7.9 billion to fund mass transit, with turnpike tolls increasing annually. But if you think this last payment means an end to rising tolls, think again. Instead, toll increases will be “only” 3% per year…by 2028. For next year, the hike will be 5%.

Is 8.1-cent-per-mile driving tax coming?

When Gov. Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission offers its final report tomorrow with recommendations for increasing transportation revenue and eliminating the gas tax, the largest proposed source of new revenue will be a tax on every mile driven. An 8.1-cent-per-mile tax, to be exact. With brilliant new tax ideas like this (read: sarcasm), I just can’t wait to see the full report. The Post-Gazette has even more of a preview.

Op-Ed: School funding lawsuit is misguided

The Commonwealth Foundation’s Jennifer Stefano has an op-ed in the Inquirer noting that the lawsuit challenging how Pennsylvania funds education is “a classic case of tilting at windmills.” Stefano writes that the “real solution is to fix the core problem — the separation of children from each other and opportunities by district lines.” And the way to do this is by allowing education funding to follow the child.

House committee to tackle ethics review

Following the resignation of former Rep. Margo Davidson after she was charged with stealing from taxpayers, House State Government Committee Chair Seth Grove (York County) announced his committee will review the state’s Ethics Act, Pension Forfeiture Law, legislative car-leasing allowance, and legislative per diem rules. Read Rep. Grove’s full statement here.

Op-Ed: Rep. Rabb should support education opportunity for all, not just some

After Rep. Chris Rabb publicly posted about his son’s recent high school graduation and future college plans, Calvin Tucker pointed out in the Chestnut Hill Local that while Rep. Rabb sent his son to an elite private school, he voted against giving other children that same opportunity to access an exceptional education of their parents’ choosing.

Redistricting hearing today

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which is responsible for drawing state legislative maps, will hold a public meeting today at 2pm. Scheduled to present are representatives from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and the Legislative Data Processing Center. You can watch the hearing live here at 2pm. (Note: this is separate from the congressional redistricting process, which is accomplished via legislation rather than through the redistricting commission).

Lamb to launch U.S. Senate bid

Rep. Conor Lamb is reportedly expected to announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate next Friday, August 6, at an event in Pittsburgh. Roll Call reports that Lamb’s candidacy “intensifies a geographic divide in the Democratic primary, with both Lamb and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman hailing from Western Pennsylvania. Two other candidates, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Val Arkoosh, who chairs the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, are based in the Philadelphia area in southeastern Pennsylvania, as is state Sen. Sharif Street, who is considering a Senate run.”

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