What are Pennsylvania lawmakers thinking, introducing a bill in their legislature that would make people pay to drive into the state and pay again to drive out of it?
The quick answer is, they think they’ll make about $300 million per year by charging entry and exit tolls of $1 for cars and $5 for trucks at all 11 points where interstate highways cross a Pennsylvania border.
But they’ll also annoy and alienate the millions of people, including huge numbers of Ohioans, who crisscross their state.
While crossing Pennsylvania, these travelers already spend plenty of money on gasoline, motels, food and enormous fountain beverages.
But they just might keep their wallets shut through the Keystone State if forced to pay just to get in and out.
Chances are that such a law wouldn’t hold up to a legal challenge. It appears to many to violate the Constitution’s interstate-commerce clause, aimed to prevent state legislatures from imposing costs on people from other states.
And, by the way, what would happen when a motorist prepares to leave Pennsylvania but doesn’t have the exit fee?
Most cities and states impose visitors’ taxes– on hotels, car rentals and the like– to take advantage of the tourists they can attract.
But blatantly sticking it to people just for crossing the border isn’t likely to encourage folks to return.
And those tollbooths will make an awfully ironic pairing next to the “Welcome to Pennsylvania” signs.–Columbus