WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A proposal within the 2020-21 Pennsylvania state budget would have all municipalities paying for state police funding, even if they have a local police force. The amount is calculated based on factors including a municipality’s median income, cost of police coverage, and population.
The fee ranges from nearly $100 per resident to as little as 25 cents. In Luzerne County, Dorrance Township, which is covered full time by state police would have to pay $210,335. That’s about $94 a person.
Use the chart below to find out how much you would be paying toward the State Police fund if the proposal goes through.
This proposal is different from the $25 flat fee per resident that was proposed and ultimately stricken down in 2017. Unlike two bills proposed in 2019, the fee also wouldn’t be based solely on population.
A statement from the State Police says the agency developed the new proposal and that the funds are necessary to keep providing support to communities that need it.
“The plan calls on all municipalities to contribute because PSP provides a variety of services upon request to municipalities across the Commonwealth, regardless of whether or not they staff a municipal police department,” the statement says.
People in communities like Nanticoke that do employ local police are worried about having to come up with the money. Some say that the fees can add up to a lot of money for those on fixed incomes, especially with other tax and price increases. State police insist the money is necessary.
“We believe this is a fair and equitable solution to a funding crisis that, if left unaddressed, would result in the cancellation of cadet classes, significant changes in PSP operations, and a negative impact on public safety,” the statement added.
State police would also receive additional funding from the state’s Motor License Fund. A proposed $706 million of the over $2.9 billion fund would go to the agency.
According to the 2020-21 budget, the Motor License Fund is a revenue fund comprised of money generated by taxes on fuel and licensing fees among other resident and municipal contributions. That includes at tax of 58.7 cents per gallon of gas, the second highest gas tax in the country behind California, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation.
“Roughly $700 million annually diverted from the Motor License Fund to the Pennsylvania State Police,” said State Representative Mike Carroll, the Democratic chair of the transportation committee. “And the state police obviously need that money but that money should come from the general fund and not from the Motor License Fund. And the money that flows to the state police today would serve our transportation network in a real way.”
State police, however, say that the Motor License Fund won’t be as influential in the years to come. “Language in the fiscal code enacted as part of the 2016/17 budget incrementally restricts the Motor License Fund transfer to the PSP over the next decade, ultimately capping it at approximately $500 million per year,” they said in a statement.
In total, $2.617 billion is allocated to criminal justice statewide. Of that amount, nearly $136 million, or about 5%, will be coming directly from the municipality fee to the state police.