Members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate transportation committees have turned their attention toward the issue of diverting money from the Motor License Fund to the State Police.

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards and State Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker say they will work together to find a solution to the dilemma, which has left PennDOT and the State Police competing for money that, under the State Constitution, is to be used strictly for highway purposes.

In fact, nearly two-thirds of the State Police budget is now coming from the Motor License Fund. If the next fiscal year budget is approved as proposed, the State Police portion taken from that fund will surpass $800 million, representing the equivalent of 13 cents per gallon in the price of gasoline.

Certainly the highway patrol operation qualifies as a legitimate “highway purpose,” since it helps ensure highway safety, but Commissioner Blocker uses a rather far-reaching definition of which of his agency’s other activities are related to highways. While safer highways may be a positive result of drug interdiction efforts, for example, the main reason for such efforts is to halt criminal activities and protect the public from dangerous substances.

House committee members advanced a resolution directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to determine the appropriate level of revenue that should be diverted to State Police given the constitutional provisions. We’ll report back on this issue as it advances.

Transportation Issue Update