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Thirdrail7

SEPTA facing $63M capital budget shortfall over motorists' lawsuit

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I have to admit, I've never like the use of toll road money funding other transportation initiatives. 

 

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The lawsuit imperils funding set aside by Act 44, 2007 legislation that diverts some $450 million in toll revenues from the debt-ridden Pa. Turnpike Authority to the Pa. Department of Transportation to support multimodal projects. A 2014 earmark began diverting most of this funding to mass transit providers, like SEPTA.

The suit, filed by a truckers lobby and a driver’s association, asserts these transfers are illegal and seeks to refund nearly $6 billion in Act 44 payments to transit agencies since the bill took effect.

The case is now winding through the courts with no clear resolution on the horizon. But if a judge rules in favor of the motorists’ groups, the $1.4 billion transit agency will have to find another source of cash to replace the $63 million annual PennDOT subsidy — or more likely, put some big-ticket plans on hold.

It’s a threat SEPTA is taking seriously.

 

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10 hours ago, MARC Rider said:

What's their legal argument? 

I don't have any kids in school, why should my taxes go to education?

I don't farm, why should my taxes pay for agricultural subsidies?

 

I also think the taxes and duties levied on tobacco and alcohol for example needs tgo be spent on subsidies for tobacco and alcohol.

How dare other departments think they have any right to that money.

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On 1/16/2019 at 7:09 PM, MARC Rider said:

What's their legal argument?

 

 

It would have probably helped you if I posted the link and the rest of the article!

https://whyy.org/articles/septa-facing-63-million-capital-budget-shortfall-over-motorists-lawsuit/

 

A brief fair use quote will air their beef:

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Two organizations, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association Inc. — a truckers lobby — and the National Motorists Association, sued the state in March, holding that it was illegal for Turnpike revenues to be spent on anything other than highway maintenance.

Automotive groups across the U.S. have tied similar funding diversions to rising tolls. The legal battle in Pa. mimics a similar suit filed in 2013 by truckers’ groups in New York state over toll revenues diverted to fund improvements along the Erie Canal. That legal effort was initially successful but was thrown out on appeal last year.

SEPTA is just one of many transit providers across the state that could be impacted by this suit. The Port Authority of Allegheny County, which provides transit service in the Pittsburgh metro area, announced in November that it would idle 44 capital projects because the Turnpike had begun withholding quarterly payments to transit providers over the suit.

 

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I am definitely not a lawyer, but it seems as though that should be a fairly easy question to sort out. Either diverting those funds to non-highway maintenance is specifically prohibited by PA law, or it's not. The plaintiffs must surely have a reason to think they are correct, otherwise they would not spend the legal fees on the case. The fact that SEPTA is "taking it seriously" is another key indicator here.

That said, it would also seem to be a relatively simple fix, legally speaking. PA lawmakers could simply change the law, right? Whether the political will is there is a different question, of course.

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