The State Police-Motor License Fund issue has crested statewide as the Associated Press produced a comprehensive article and a sidebar on the issue that is running in multiple newspapers throughout the Commonwealth.
Although complexities surround the issue, AP reporter Marc Levy wrote an easy-to-understand story that covers all aspects of it. The story notes that an increasing amount of revenue is being siphoned from funds that would otherwise go toward improving the transportation system. It also notes that half of Pennsylvania’s municipalities benefit from State Police coverage at no cost, while residents of communities with local police coverage essentially pay twice.
As we have said previously, this is not a question of the level of resources needed by the State Police, but rather from where those resources should be derived. Providing general police protection and services to municipalities is a separate function from “highway patrols.”
What we don’t know is the precise cost of highway patrols. We suspect it is less than two-thirds of what the agency does, yet two-thirds of the State Police budget is taken from the Motor License Fund. Because Motor License Fund revenue is mandated, per State Constitution, to be used for highway purposes, that would be a constitutional violation.
Links for the AP article and sidebar are below.
- The aforementioned Associated Press article can be found here.
- The AP article’s sidebar delves into which communities pay for police coverage and which communities receive it “for free.” There are some surprises.
- Also joining the party on State Police funding was our old friend, Joe Grata, retired Post-Gazette transportation writer and a member of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, which sets priorities for state and federal transportation funding in the region.
- In public transportation news, Governing Magazine published an article promoting “Bus Rapid Transit” as a less expensive but overlooked alternative to light rail.