Amid increasing concern over “leakage” from the Motor License Fund, the Coalition this week approved a resolution asking the General Assembly to direct the Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study to identify the appropriate level of support that the State Police should receive from the Motor License Fund.
Per the Pennsylvania Constitution, revenue from liquid fuel taxes, license and registration fees and some fines must ultimately be used for highway purposes. While patrolling highways is a legitimate highway purpose, we have reached a point where two-thirds of the entire State Police budget is being taken from the Motor License Fund.
The current budget proposal calls for the diversion of $758 million from the MLF to the State Police. The total State Police budget is less than $1.2 billion. The diverted amount equates to 12 cents per gallon on the price of gasoline. The increases in the diverted amount has averaged almost 9 percent a year since 2002, and regional transportation planners have noticed that they are not receiving what had been expected as a result of the passage of Act 89 of 2013.
At the current rate of growth, the diverted amount will reach nearly $1 billion in five years. While the State Police certainly needs to be adequately funded, it surely is not devoting two-thirds of its resources to patrolling highways.
Also this week, Sen. John Wozniak is circulating a co-sponsorship memo for a bill that would trim the diverted amount to $500 million in the next fiscal year. While that would certainly have a positive effect on the state’s bridge and highway program, my personal view is that determining the appropriate funding level would help in leading us to a sound solution for this issue.
Transportation Issue Update
- Although local governments are receiving an additional $200 million this year to maintain local roads, the funding still falls short of needs, according to the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors.
- The Turnpike Commission reports that uncollected tolls as of May 31 totaled $33 million, and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he will look into that during the next regularly schedule Turnpike audit.
- FindMyRidePA.com, an innovative online resource providing information and allowing scheduling for fixed route and shared ride transportation services, received positive attention as part of Veterans Day observances.
- The recent article in the York Daily Record regarding discussion among some municipalities about dismantling local police operations in favor of “free” State Police coverage has spurred a public discussion. Two subsequent op-ed articles frame the issue. The first, click HERE. The second, click HERE
- The U.S. House approved a multi-year transportation funding measure, but it still requires reconciliation with a similar bill in the Senate.
- PennDOT will utilize GPS technology to improve snow removal efforts in a pilot program this winter.