Our opinion: A place to start talking

Here’s something you don’t often hear from a powerful Republican in the Pennsylvania General Assembly: Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Rafferty wants to raise the price of gasoline by 25 cents or more per gallon, increase licensing fees and traffic penalties to increase spending on the state’s roads by as much as 50 percent.

The proposal is gaining a lot of support, particularly from Democrats, who, we are led to believe, are more likely to make such tax-and-spend proposals.

But, it’s also getting a nod from people in Rafferty’s own party, along with transportation-minded groups like engineering firms and road building contractors.

This is pretty dangerous stuff for a good Republican to be touting, but it just may be that Rafferty and some of his colleagues are getting tired of spilling their morning coffee because of an encounter with an especially deep pothole.

Pennsylvania maintains one of the largest networks of roads and highways in the nation. It is also not blessed with a weather pattern that is conducive to long-lived paving.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again.

In most things, even government things, you generally get what you are willing to pay for, but little more.

The question becomes, how much are you willing to pay for?

Pennsylvania already has one of the highest gasoline taxes in the nation, although technically the tax increase Rafferty is proposing is a wholesale levy paid by dealers and refiners. Make no mistake, however, they will happily transfer that responsibility to you as you swipe your credit card at one of their pumps.

We foresee some compromising on the horizon as Rafferty’s proposal winds its way through the Senate and then, perhaps, through the more conservative House -perhaps not as much tax and a bit less than boosting state transportation spending by half.

As an opening suggestion, we believe Rafferty has given the Senate a place to start, a not-so-terrible idea.