WBRE/WYOU — Governor Tom Wolf has been pushing to get rural communities to pay to help fund state police.
Now, two bills have been introduced in Harrisburg to start that process. If passed, taxpayers will have to foot the bill.
This comes after Eugene Depasquale unleashed an audit in April that unveiled billions of dollars was diverted to pay for state police over the past several years. That money was supposed to go towards repairing roads and bridges in the state. This new fee will help fund PSP so money stays in the motor license fund.
Pennsylvania State Police are on the run each day and the funding to keep them protecting our communities is running out.
“The Pennsylvania State Police always answers the call but demand for PSP services and the drain on our department resources continues to grow,” Pennsylvania State Police commissioner Col. Robert Evanchick said.
House Bill 959 and Senate Bill 741 will require municipalities that rely on state police coverage to pay up.
“Right now some municipalities are not paying their fair share for police protection and to compensate for that deficit, money is being taken from the motor license fund,” Governor Tom Wolf said.
Governor Wolf held a press conference in Harrisburg Tuesday morning to help push the bills. The burden would be on the taxpayers. It would be based on per capita for a municipality.
As of right now, the fee is eight dollars for a municipality population of less than 2,000 to $166 for a population of 20,000. During the first year, the fee is expected to raise $104 million for PSP.
“They need funding for state police. Yeah, because that is the only police we have where I live,” David Repenning of Clinton Township, Wayne County said.
Repenning says Harrisburg should find money in the budget to help the troopers.
“Probably not per head. I think the legislature needs to be brave enough to fund them,” Repenning said.
“We would be sitting on an accident for 45 minutes to an hour,” Grattan Singer Hose Company assistant fire chief Joe Unis said.
Unis says that’s how long it would take for state police to respond to a call. Since 2013, the township has hired Carbondale Police to cover the township, raising the question: should more municipalities follow suit?
“State police, they’re needed in other areas that don’t have any police around them to even contract out. So it makes sense both ways,” Unis said.
During the first year, more than $100 million will go towards PSP operations, services and cadet classes. If the fee was to increase, it would be done annually.
It would be based on the consumer price index for all urban consumers. Governor Wolf says if that does not increase, the fee will not.
According to state representative Mike Sturla, who introduced House Bill 959, 80 percent of Pennsylvanians pay for their local police services, while 20 percent rely on state police coverage.
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