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We recognize that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania faces record deficits at as much as four billion dollars. We understand the pressure to identify new sources of money for maintenance and construction of essential infrastructure.  However, we want to express our deep concern about the utilization of public-private partnerships without adequate public protections.

America must move toward a new transportation future for the 21st century that enhances our economy, national security, public health, environment, and quality of life.

As people all across Pennsylvania are struggling to make ends meet, large national and international corporations are taking advantage of huge loopholes in our current tax system, and not paying their fair share.  This forces the rest of us to shoulder the burden even more.

To PennPIRG, combined reporting is a basic issue of tax fairness and tax modernization that should be enacted regardless of the revenue consequences and regardless of whether the Commonwealth faces persistent budget deficits or surpluses.

The U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona issued a comprehensive scientific report which concludes that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.  The report finds that even brief secondhand smoke exposure can cause immediate harm, and concludes that the only way to protect nonsmokers from the dangerous chemicals in secondhand smoke is to eliminate smoking indoors.  For this reason, PennPIRG supports a ban on smoking in restaurants, bars, private clubs, and casinos.

The new Congress deserves credit for quickly and strongly responding to the scandals of last year by passing sweeping changes to the rules that will reduce the special access of wealthy and powerful interests in Washington.  It was a critical first step. We now urge you to finish the job by supporting legislation that will ensure that the new rules will be adequately enforced.  Today, we ask you to be a co-sponsor legislation introduced by Sens. Lieberman, Collins and Obama to enforce the rules.

In brief, the PennPIRG Education Fund is advocating that the Commission recommend the expansion of existing revenue streams for public transit, such as the real estate transfer tax, the tire tax, and the rental car tax, as well as developing new funding mechanisms, such as a transportation impact fee, a vehicle sales tax based on weight and/or fuel efficiency, as well as several others.

Many of the concerns raised about leasing Pennsylvania highways in general, and the Turnpike in particular, revolve around costs in a monetary sense, especially raising tolls. But there are many less visible costs whose impact will be far greater than toll increases under the proposed contract. These costs need to be brought into the discussion.