For all of the trouble the Legislature has had in passing a transportation program, the debate never was about whether the spending it would produce is needed.

The $2.3 billion-a-year bill narrowly passed Tuesday by the House, on its third try, and the $2.5 billion bill overwhelmingly passed earlier this year by the Senate, fall well short of the $3.5 billion-a-year transportation funding deficit identified by Gov. Tom Corbett's non-partisan study commission.

Whatever the final number, the work is needed. Pennsylvania has more structurally deficient bridges than any other state, nearly 4,500, and 9,000 miles of highway in critical need of repair. The longer the Legislature delays a program, the more expensive those problems will become.

Funding will come from significantly increased licensing and registration fees, higher fines for traffic violations and from elimination on a tax cap on the wholesale price of fuel. That means that drivers will see higher prices at the gasoline pump, possibly has much as 28.5 cents per gallon in five years.

But the program also includes billions of dollars in economic benefits, beginning with the creation of about 50,000 more construction jobs over five years, which will increase state and local income tax revenue and help to hold down taxes in other areas while boosting the economy.

The program also will provide dedicated funding for mass transit, which reduces wear and tear on roads, eases congestion, helps the environment and sustains the economies of the state's urban areas, especially Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

No one likes tax increases but this program is a simple matter of the government attending to its responsibility.